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Aug 22 2017

4 Ways to Cultivate Empathy for Your Coworkers


Want stronger work relationships? Cultivate empathy. Empathy, or the ability to understand others’ emotions, makes you less likely to clash with your coworkers. It also boosts your entire team’s efficiency, helps you feel happy and secure at work, and improves your communication.

But merely telling yourself to be more empathetic won’t do the trick. To cultivate empathy, try these four ideas.

1. Consistently Check In

You’d be surprised at the power of a simple question like, “How are you?” or “Is everything going okay?” Most people will open up if something is wrong. It’s natural to assume someone is doing well because they’re meeting their deadlines and handling all of their responsibilities, but they might be struggling silently.

Once they’ve been honest with you, it’s much easier to feel empathy for their specific challenges.

2. Shadow Your Coworkers

When you don’t really know what your colleagues do on a daily basis, it’s hard to be empathetic. For example, maybe you’re frustrated because they’re not answering your emails, or they weren’t helpful when you asked for help. However, shadowing them shows you how busy they are or how many similar questions they receive—which makes you more understanding of their previous (not to mention future) responses.

3. Be Friendly

You don’t need to spend every weekend hanging out with your coworkers, but socializing with them both at the office and occasionally outside of it will definitely make you more empathetic. As you get to know someone, you’ll have a greater appreciation for the obstacles they face. Plus, spending time with someone in a social environment gives you the opportunity to see a different side of their personality.

Alternatively, try following your coworkers on social media. It’s much easier to see someone as a real person when you know they have two young kids or love making vegan desserts.

4. Use Your Imagination

Want a really easy way to feel more empathy? Just visualize yourself in someone else’s shoes. We’ve heard this advice since we were in kindergarten, yet it’s still—maybe even more—important now.

Next time you’re feeling less than pleased with a coworker, imagine yourself in their job. Try to reflect on the various anxieties of the role. If you asked them for information or assistance, consider why your request may be coming at a bad time.

This exercise isn’t reserved for times you’re annoyed or aggravated. When you’re standing in line and have a few minutes to kill, choose a random team member and think about their job, highest priorities, main deliverables, primary metrics for success, and so on. Here’s where #2, shadowing, can really come in handy!

A little empathy goes a long way. Once you’ve continually practiced these habits, you’ll be more patient, helpful, and kind at work. Your coworkers will definitely notice the difference.

About Signature Consultants, LLC

Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Signature Consultants was established in 1997 with a singular focus: to provide clients and consultants with superior staffing solutions. For the ninth consecutive year, Signature was voted as one of the “Best Staffing Firms to Work For” and is named the 15th Largest IT Staffing Firm in the United States (source: Staffing Industry Analysts). With 29 locations throughout North America, Signature annually deploys thousands of consultants to support, run, and manage their clients’ technology needs. Signature offers IT staffing, consulting, managed solutions, and direct placement services. For more information on the company, please visit https://www.sigconsult.com. Signature Consultants is the parent company to Hunter Hollis and Madison Gunn.

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