How to improve your empathy – and why it’s important

I recently wrote a blog about the 5 elements of Emotional Intelligence, one of the elements  I mentioned was Empathy. It’s a complete myth to say you either have it or you don’t! Some of the most successful organisations are Empathetic. Those that aren’t could be losing staff because they show little understanding for their team. After a while this affects morale and people leave to find a more supportive company.

Empathetic people tend to be more generous & concerned with peoples welfare they also tend to have happier relationships and greater well being.

Here are some tips on how to improve your empathy….

Listen without interrupting

Truly listening can be a challenge. Sometimes we are just waiting to give our own opinion. Or we assume what the person is going to say next so we step in to either finish what they were saying or acknowledge what they are saying too quickly!

Be fully engaged when you are with people

You can start being fully present by putting away your phone, not checking your email, and not accepting calls while you are interacting with someone. A study  shows that the things we say account for only 7% of what we are trying to communicate. “The other 93% of the message that we communicate when we speak is contained in our tone of voice and body language.” If all you’re doing while you speak with someone is listening to what they are saying while you keep checking your emails, you’ll miss the bulk of what is being communicated.


Smiles are literally contagious. The part of your brain responsible for this facial expression is the cingulate cortex, which is an unconscious automatic response area. Since smiling releases feel good chemicals in the brain, activates reward centers, and increases health.

Use peoples name and be encouraging

Encouraging people can be as simple as nodding at them while they talk in a meeting. This simple gesture, along with using their name, can make great impact on relationship building.

Try to empathise with people whose beliefs you don’t share

One good way to approach differing beliefs in conversation is to say, “That’s interesting, how did you develop that idea?” or “Tell me more.” This tip might come in handy during a discussion on politics!

Give genuine recognition

Move past “ you did a great job” and give specific compliments like, “Your research on this difficult topic is thorough” or “Thank you. I would have missed that detail if you hadn’t pointed it out.”

Have deeper conversations

Understanding a person’s point of view or personal challenges requires conversation that moves past the weather. This doesn’t mean you should ask your colleague about private matters. Start by sharing a little more of your own experiences and perspectives and see if your colleague joins in.

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