Empathy in the Workplace


by on Nov 12, 2020 12:54 PM

Empathy in the Workplace

Let’s look at how to practice empathy in the workplace. I recently read an article about Bill and Melinda Gates in which they describe emotional intelligence as the key to their successful marriage and business partnership. Delving deeper, they agree that practicing empathy, providing feedback, and starting with respect are the fundamentals.

The article got me thinking about my business career and the workplace. I learned early on that giving useful feedback with kindness built trust with my colleagues, clients, and vendors and earned me a solid reputation. Fast forward twenty years and it’s now a given that open dialogue and courtesy are staples within business culture. Heck, one of Trilogy’s values is to tell the hard truth in a respectful manner. But how often are we asked at work to be empathetic and what does it truly mean?

The definition of empathy reads “the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.”

So, how does one practice empathy in the workplace? According to Bill Gates, he applies 3 steps:

  1. Listen first
  2. Identify with the other person’s feelings
  3. Don’t judge

Easier said than done. Although it may not be the natural inclination in the workplace, engaging in conscious empathy has its benefits. It enhances perspective, diminishes ignorance, allows for vulnerability, and reveals opportunities. Being open and understanding of another person’s viewpoint and feelings even if you don’t agree are also the benchmarks for healthy conflict which strengthens teams.

At Trilogy, we teach ourselves and our clients the art of practicing empathy. This has always been our way but has come into play more in 2020. It is a struggle at times but is well worth the effort. I’m hopeful that we’ll see more companies adding empathy to their core values. If you are intrigued and want to learn more about empathy in business and its ROI, contact me.


About Andrea Grubb

Andrea Grubb is the Chief Integrator Officer at Trilogy Partners. Trilogy Partners is an advisory & implementation firm whose mission is to help companies grow and transform. We accomplish this by focusing on 3 critical business areas: FinancialStrategy & People.