Why Everything You Know About Empathy at Work Is A Lie

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Lying about Empathy Costs Everyone – Time, Money, and Loneliness 

Throughout the work day, people exchange so many cliches that perpetuate the insidious lie. The lie is “there’s no place for empathy at work.” Despite all the research and case studies, busy professionals like you are constantly discouraged from unleashing the power of empathy and compassion with your work team.

It’s not like people are literally saying, “They screwed up. Don’t be empathetic,” or “Steve doesn’t deserve compassion.” They are confirming it in their actions that ignore employees’ human needs to feel seen, heard, and supported. In the Great Resignation, overwhelmingly, people are leaving “toxic workplaces” and managers that don’t seem to care for their team’s well-being or growth.  

Lies about empathy in the workplace are plentiful.

The lie takes many forms like:

  • There’s no time  
  • It’s business not personal  
  • That’s not how we do things around here  
  • Look out for yourself  
  • This is show business not show family 
  • Set aside your life outside of work  
  • You need to be available 24/7  
  • Tears are inappropriate
  • Pull yourself together  
  • Can’t you get someone else to watch your kids  
  • I’m not here to make friends  
  • Go above and beyond daily  
  • No one wants to hear your ideas  
  • Do more with less everyone else is fine with it  

This is not my complete list of lies; I’m sure you get the picture.

All these lies do is slow you and your team down because it limits your relationships, time, or emotional capacity to rise to challenges. In this new era of work, it’s critical for leaders to unlearn these toxic lies, And then create cultures where empathy and compassion are normal.

Burnout, Great Resignation, quiet quitting, and ongoing return-to-office fights

These are all situations that can benefit from increased empathy and compassion. For career success, leaders must consider that there is a major shift in their duties. No longer does “command and control” leadership work. This is because business challenges are complex and require a team response. A strong leader in the digital age must be a fair compassionate leader who can inform, energize and mobilize a team of functional experts.  

Why change now? Because people like people who like them.

There is a talent shortage that’s not improving anytime soon. The businesses that will attract, retain and innovate with the best talent will have a remarkable competitive advantage. The needs of job seekers have changed, and leaders’ needs have changed dramatically since before the pandemic.

With new technologies like AI, the blockchain, and the metaverse, there’s no doubt more dramatic changes are in the near future. 

If you’re reading this far, clearly, you see the challenges ahead and want to be prepared for the future. The good news is that this article is designed for you. Here’s what you need to know to grow your empathy and compassion at work using advice from leading experts.  

If you don’t want to read everything, here are the links to skip ahead: 

Daily Activities to Practice 

Self-Care to Recharge Empathy   

Major Articles  




empathy at work: development

 The Facts about Developing Empathy at Work 

Developing empathy is an essential skill that can help us to better understand and relate to the people around us. It involves putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, understanding their feelings and perspectives, and responding with compassion. 

As a leader in this new era of business, empathy is a retention and productivity accelerator. 

The top five qualities employees look for in an empathetic senior leader are: 

  • Open and transparent  
  • Fair 
  • Follows through on action 
  • Encourages others to share their opinions 
  • Trusted to handle difficult conversations (Source: 2021 EY Empathy in Business Survey

Can we increase our empathy at work? 

Yes, it is possible to increase our empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and reflect on the feelings of another person. It involves putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and understanding their perspective. 

There are several ways to increase your empathy. One way is to practice active listening, which means paying attention when someone is speaking and trying to understand what they are saying with both words and body language, especially facial expressions. 

Why Empathy Matters At Work 

Empathy is an essential quality for any workplace. It helps to create a positive and productive environment where employees feel valued and respected. Empathy allows us to understand the perspectives of others, which can help us to collaborate better and work together. 

When employees can empathize with each other, it creates a sense of trust and understanding that can lead to more effective communication. 

Types of Empathy 

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. It is a powerful tool that helps us build relationships, foster understanding, and create meaningful connections with others.  

In different situations, we use different types of empathy, such as: 

Cognitive Empathy: Cognitive empathy involves understanding how someone else thinks and feels without necessarily feeling what they feel. This type of empathy is helpful in situations where you need to understand someone else’s perspective without getting too emotionally involved. Example: Tim is disappointed. 

Emotional Empathy: Emotional empathy involves feeling what another person is feeling. This type of empathy can be potent, as it allows us to truly connect with someone on an emotional level. It can also be challenging to manage, as it can lead to strong emotions that may be difficult to control. Example: I feel Tim’s disappointment. 

Compassionate Empathy: Compassionate empathy is a combination of cognitive and emotional empathy. It involves understanding someone else’s feelings and responding with compassion and understanding. This type of empathy can be compelling, as it allows us to connect with someone emotionally while maintaining a sense of objectivity. Example: Tim is disappointed, and I offered him support to move forward. 

empathy at work: incorporate

How To Incorporate Empathy At Work 

Empathy is an important skill to have in the workplace, as it helps create a more positive and productive environment. It allows employees to better understand and relate to each other, leading to better collaboration and communication. 

The 2021 EY Empathy in Business Survey of more than 1,000 employed Americans revealed that more than half had left a previous job because their boss wasn’t empathetic to their struggles at work (54%) or in their personal lives (49%). According to Steve Payne, EY Americas Vice Chair – Consulting, “Our research finds that empathy is not only a nice-to-have but the glue and accelerant for business transformation in the next era of business.

Empathy’s ability to create a culture of trust and innovation is unmatched, and this previously overlooked trait must be at the forefront of businesses across all industries.

To incorporate empathy in the workplace, it is vital to create an environment where employees feel comfortable expressing their feelings and needs. Additionally, employers should strive to develop a culture of respect and understanding where everyone’s opinions are valued.   

Daily Activities to Strengthen Empathy at Your Workplace 

Empathy is an important skill to have in life, as it helps us to understand and connect with others on a deeper level. Practicing empathy can help us to become more compassionate and understanding of the feelings of those around us. It’s important to choose activities that fit your personality and lifestyle. There is no one size fits all solution that increases your capacity for empathy. Here are some daily practices that can help strengthen your empathy: 

1. Listen without an agenda - Listening is one of the most important aspects of empathy. Being an active listener is essential because it shows that you care about what the other person has to say and understand them. It also helps you remember more of what was said, as well as being able to more easily identify any confusion or misunderstandings. Active listening means asking questions, summarizing topics discussed, and providing positive feedback. 

2. Practice Being Respectful, Even if They Aren’t – Respect is essential for creating a positive work environment. Showing respect to your colleagues and their ideas will help foster understanding and collaboration. Showing respect to everyone at work, even those who don’t show you respect, will help you develop a positive work environment and strong relationships with your coworkers. When you show respect to people, no matter how they treat you, it reflects well upon yourself, making it easier for others to look up to you and trust that you can be a respected coworker. 

3. Be Self-Aware and Adjust to Understand Others – Being aware of your own feelings and perspectives can help you better understand the feelings and views of others. Self-awareness is essential in the workplace because it helps you understand yourself, your coworkers, and how effectively you work. Self-awareness also allows you to recognize your strengths and weaknesses and adjust and make necessary changes. Awareness of your surrounding environment can help you develop better communication skills, cultivate a more positive relationship with colleagues, and make more effective decisions. Being aware or mindful of yourself in the workplace leads to greater productivity, improved collaboration, and fewer conflicts. 

4. Objective Feedback Builds Skill and Trust – Feedback is an integral part of any workplace, and being open to feedback from your colleagues can help you better understand their perspectives. Objective feedback can be beneficial to your career and personal development. By being open to feedback, you gain insight into what others may perceive about your performance, communication style, or behavior. Having an honest understanding of how you are perceived in the workplace can help you make improvements in areas where you may need them. Additionally, it can allow you to more accurately recognize and celebrate when things are going well in your work. 

5. Investing time with Colleagues Pays – Connecting with your colleagues on a personal level can help build relationships and foster understanding. Making meaningful connections with your colleagues can help you to increase job satisfaction and boost productivity. Connecting with colleagues helps promote trust and understanding, which results in better work relationships and a more cohesive team atmosphere. Good communication also leads to increased collaboration, making it easier to complete tasks, brainstorm new ideas, and provide creative problem-solving solutions. In addition, strong connections among coworkers make it easier to ask for help when needed and build a supportive network at work. 

6. Support Others With Your Skills– Offering support to your colleagues can help create a more positive work environment and foster collaboration. Supporting your coworkers is vital in any workplace. It helps foster teamwork, trust, and respect among your team. You may find that when you show you are willing to help and be a part of the team, others are more likely to do the same. Additionally, offering support can lead to others talking about your skills and problem-solving, leading to new opportunities. 

7. Practicing Patience Can Save Time – Patience is key to understanding others’ perspectives. Taking the time to listen and understand someone else’s point of view can go a long way in creating empathy. Being patient with your coworkers can help strengthen your relationships in the workplace, making it a more enjoyable work environment. Plus, taking a deep breath, relaxing your tense muscles, and counting to 5 allows you to think about what is at stake before voicing your opinion. This brief practice can help you respond more effectively without making things worse. 

8. Self-Care is a Necessity – Taking care of yourself is essential for empathizing with others. Taking the time to practice self-care can help you better understand and relate to your colleagues. Self-care is a necessary part of being able to empathize with others effectively. Practicing self-care allows us to build inner strength and resilience so that when a difficult situation arises, we can better manage our own emotions and still be capable of understanding other people’s feelings. Proper sleep, nutrition, exercise, and socialization are needed regularly to reenergize the body and mind. 

9. Ask Clarifying Questions – Asking questions can help you better understand someone else’s perspective and feelings. It shows you are genuinely interested in the other person’s experience and views. It also helps create a safe environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their thoughts, opinions, and ideas. Asking questions can help build trust, demonstrate respect, and strengthen relationships within your team or company. Don’t pry into people’s personal lives or joke around when people share because that often is received as a judgment rather than empathy. 

10. Know What Your Body Language Says – Body language can be a powerful tool for communicating empathy. Paying attention to your own body language and the body language of others can help create a more positive work environment. When you are mindful of your body language and that of others, it helps to foster mutual understanding. That can strengthen bonds between colleagues and build trust and empathy. Awareness of your facial expressions and non-verbal cues will help ensure that you come across as confident, friendly, and open-minded. Your authenticity will positively influence how others perceive you both professionally and personally. 

11. Offer Sincere Encouragement – Offer words of encouragement to your colleagues. Giving others positive reinforcement and recognition for their hard work and accomplishments boosts morale and builds respect between colleagues. It can help to build empathy because it promotes understanding and appreciation of the things we have in our lives. Gratitude also encourages us to look beyond ourselves and recognize the blessings in others’ lives. It enables us to express appreciation for what others are doing rather than taking them for granted. 

12. Acknowledge Emotions in the Room – Acknowledging emotions in the workplace is essential for building empathy, as it allows you to understand what another person may be feeling and think about their experiences. When we recognize, validate, and respond to our own and others’ emotions, we are more likely to show respect and understanding of different perspectives and build trust and positive relationships with colleagues. This ultimately helps us work together more effectively as a team. 

13. Offer Your Solutions – Offering solutions to problems can help foster collaboration and understanding between colleagues. It shows that you care about the company and its goals. When someone offers up a solution, it demonstrates that they can think critically and creatively about how to help improve the situation. Additionally, it helps create a sense of teamwork and collaboration, which can be beneficial for building trust among coworkers. 

14. Build Your Cross-Cultural Awareness – Cultural differences can help you better understand and relate to your colleagues from different backgrounds. Cultural differences can create unique workplace challenges and make it difficult to build empathy. When different cultures come together, misunderstandings or miscommunications may occur due to different expectations or values. By being sensitive to other cultures and understanding their differences, you can foster greater collaboration and cooperation between team members from different backgrounds. This helps develop respect and trust, leading to a more productive work environment. 

15. Practice Kindness – Practicing kindness can help to cultivate empathy within individuals. By showing genuine kind acts and extending compassion, people will be more likely to see the world through someone else’s perspective and have the ability to understand different feelings and experiences. This skill can even help build stronger relationships between people who may not otherwise have been able to connect.     

empathy at work: downside

The Downside of Empathy in Daily Life 

For several years now, leaders have needed to manage a heavy emotional load: supporting teams in overcoming the sorrow and losses of the pandemic, maintaining their own mental health, and helping their teams stay motivated. While empathy is a valuable tool for leaders in these situations, it can also be a double-edged sword.  

Empathy can lead to burnout if leaders are not careful. When leaders feel the pain of their team members, they may become overwhelmed and unable to manage their own emotions.

Additionally, when leaders focus too much on the feelings of their team, they may neglect to take action and make decisions necessary for the organization’s success. Therefore, leaders need to practice self-care and be mindful of their emotional needs to avoid burnout and maintain their capacity for empathy at work. 

It can be emotionally draining when we constantly try to understand and relate to others.

Additionally, empathy can lead to a lack of objectivity. When we are too focused on understanding another person’s perspective, we may be unable to make the best decisions for our own interests. Finally, empathy can lead to a false sense of security. We may think that because we understand someone else’s feelings, we can trust them. This is not always the case and can lead to dangerous situations. 

However, it is important to be aware of the potential downsides of relying too heavily on empathy. Understanding these potential risks enables us to use empathy more mindfully and effectively. According to a  Harvard Business Review Article by Rasmus Hougaard, et al., there are five key strategies for using empathy to lead with more compassion. 

  1. Take a second for your mental and emotional break. Step out of the feelings to gain an improved insight into the circumstance and the individual. It is only then that you can be of help. Although it may seem unsympathetic to make this mental distance, remember that you are not stepping away from the person; instead, you are getting away from the issue to do something about it. 
  1. Ask what they need. - This will better inform you about how you can help. You are allowing the suffering person to reflect on what may be required. You are going beyond empathy to compassion since this is the first step toward being helped is to feel heard and seen. 
  1. Remember the Power of Listening - It is important to consider that sometimes, simply listening and showing kindness is far more helpful than providing a solution when someone is struggling. Many issues just need to be heard and acknowledged, so taking no action can be the most powerful way to show support. 
  1. Coach Don’t Tell - Instead of giving people answers, coach them to find personal answers for themselves. Leadership is about supporting people to increase their capacity to address challenges. Also, it frees you to focus on other challenges. Point them in the right direction, inspire new ideas with curious questions and serve as a mentor. 
  1. Make Time for Self-Care. Self-Care is a form of authentic self-compassion. Emotional labor, defined as the task of absorbing, reflecting, and redirecting other people’s feelings, can be overwhelming. Because of this, leaders must practice self-care: take movement breaks, sleep, eat well, enjoy meaningful relationships, and practice mindfulness. To recharge their energy, leaders must build habits of staying resilient, grounded, and in tune with themselves. When leaders show up with these qualities, people feel comfortable trusting and collaborating.    

The Empathy Overload Response: Can people run out of empathy? 

The short answer is yes. People can run out of empathy. Empathy is a finite resource, and it can be depleted over time. This is especially true for people constantly exposed to challenging situations or emotionally charged environments. For example, healthcare workers, social workers, and counselors often experience compassion fatigue due to the amount of emotional labor they must do daily. 

Compassion fatigue is a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion caused by prolonged exposure to emotionally charged situations. It can lead to a decrease in empathy and an inability to connect with others on an emotional level. 

Signs of Compassion Fatigue 

Compassion fatigue is a condition that can affect those who are in the helping professions, such as nurses, social workers, and counselors. It occurs when an individual has been exposed to too much trauma or stress from their work with clients. Signs of compassion fatigue include physical exhaustion, emotional numbness, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and feelings of hopelessness. It is important to recognize the signs of compassion fatigue and take steps to address it, such as taking breaks, engaging in self-care activities, and seeking professional help. 

Ways to Prevent Compassion Fatigue (or Burnout) 

To prevent compassion fatigue, it is crucial for people who are exposed to challenging situations or emotionally charged environments to take time for self-care and practice healthy coping strategies. Here are some effective self-care and healthy coping strategies: 

1. Take breaks: Regular breaks throughout the day can help reduce stress and prevent burnout. Busy professionals can use breaks to take a walk, meditate, or simply relax and recharge. 

2. Exercise: Regular exercise is an excellent way to reduce stress and improve mental health. Exercise releases endorphins which can help boost mood and energy levels. 

3. Get enough sleep: Getting enough quality sleep is essential for avoiding burnout. Aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night to ensure you are well-rested and energized for the day ahead. 

4. Eat healthy food: Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help keep your energy levels up and your mind sharp throughout the day. 

5. Connect with others: Spending time with friends and family can help reduce stress and provide emotional support when needed. 

6. Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness practices such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises can help reduce stress by calming the mind and body. 

7. Seek professional help: If you are feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope, it is vital to seek professional help. A therapist or counselor can provide support and guidance in managing stress and emotions. 

8. Set boundaries: Setting boundaries with yourself and others can help prevent burnout by ensuring that your time and energy are not taken for granted. 

9. Take time for yourself: Taking time for yourself is essential for avoiding burnout. Set aside time each day to do something that brings you joy and relaxation. 

10. Practice self-compassion: Practicing self-compassion can help reduce stress and prevent burnout by allowing you to be kinder and more understanding towards yourself. 

11. Find a hobby: Finding a hobby or activity you enjoy can help reduce stress levels and provide an outlet for creative expression. 

12. Seek out positive experiences: Positive experiences such as spending time in nature, listening to music, or reading a book can help reduce stress and boost your mood. 

Why it’s Important to Go Beyond Empathy and Use Compassion 

In the digital age, it is more important than ever to go beyond empathy and cultivate compassion.

Empathy is the ability to understand and reflect on another person’s feelings, while compassion goes one step further by motivating us to take action to alleviate suffering. Compassion involves understanding someone’s pain and taking steps to help them in whatever way we can. 

Leaders in the digital age must be able to recognize and respond to the needs of their team members with compassion. This means being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and truly understand what they are going through and having a genuine desire to help them. Leaders should strive to create an environment where everyone feels safe and supported and are encouraged to express their feelings without fear of judgment or embarrassment. 

Compassionate leadership also involves actively listening and responding with kindness and understanding when team members come forward with issues or concerns.

Leaders must show that they care about their team members’ well-being by offering support, guidance, and resources when needed. Leaders can foster trust, collaboration, creativity, and productivity among their employees by cultivating a culture of compassion within their teams. 

In conclusion, it is important to go beyond empathy and cultivate compassion to be an effective leader in the digital age. Compassionate leadership involves understanding and responding to the needs of team members with kindness and understanding, as well as active listening and offering support when needed. Leaders can foster trust, collaboration, creativity, and productivity among their employees by cultivating a culture of compassion within their teams. 

Recommended Articles and Books for Developing Empathy and Compassion 

Reading books and articles on developing empathy and compassion can be a great way to learn more about these essential qualities. Here are some recommended resources for those looking to deepen their understanding of empathy and compassion: 

Books for Empathy at Work: 

Here are ten books that can help you deepen your understanding of empathy and compassion at work: 

  1. The Compassionate-Mind Guide to Managing Your Anger: Using Compassion-Focused Therapy to Calm Your Rage and Heal Your Relationships by Russell Kolts 

The Compassionate-Mind Guide to Managing Your Anger is a book that explores using compassion-focused therapy to manage anger and create healthier relationships. The book provides practical advice on recognizing the signs of anger, understanding its causes, and using compassion-focused therapy to manage anger constructively. Kolts examines different aspects of compassion-focused treatment, such as how to cultivate self-compassion, recognize and respond to our anger triggers, and use compassion-focused therapy to build healthier relationships. He also offers practical tips and exercises to help readers develop their own personalized anger management plans. The book is a resource for anyone looking to use compassion-focused therapy to manage anger and create healthier relationships. 

  1. The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book: Everything You Need to Know to Put Your EQ to Work by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves. 

The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book is a guide to understanding and utilizing emotional intelligence in the workplace. It provides readers with an overview of how emotional intelligence works, how to identify and manage emotions, and how to use it to improve productivity and create a better work environment. It also looks at how to develop emotional intelligence skills, increase self-awareness, and use emotional intelligence to foster collaboration and conflict resolution. With this book, readers will better understand emotional intelligence and how to use it to become a successful leader and create a positive work environment. 

  1. Why We Meditate: The Science and Practice of Clarity and Compassion by Daniel Goleman and Tsoknyi Rinpoche 

Why We Meditate is a book that explores the science and practice of meditation and how it can help us cultivate clarity and compassion. The book provides a comprehensive overview of meditation, its benefits, and how to start a practice. Goleman and Rinpoche discuss the history and philosophy of meditation, its evolutionary basis, and the different types of meditation. They also explore the scientific evidence supporting the benefits of meditation, such as increased self-awareness, improved focus, and decreased stress. The book provides practical tips and exercises to help readers start and maintain a meditation practice and offers guidance on how to use meditation to cultivate clarity and compassion. The book is an invaluable resource for anyone looking to deepen their understanding of meditation and how it can be used to positively impact their lives. 

  1. Leader’s Guide to Mindfulness, The: How to Use Soft Skills to Get Hard Results by Audrey Tang 

Leader’s Guide to Mindfulness is a book that explores how mindfulness can help leaders achieve their goals and lead successful teams. The book provides practical advice on cultivating mindfulness in both personal and professional contexts and how to use it to be a better leader. Tang examines different aspects of mindfulness, such as how it can help us become more self-aware, increase our focus and concentration, and recognize and address our blind spots. She also provides tips on how to use mindfulness to improve communication, foster collaboration, and build trust. The book is an invaluable resource for anyone looking to use mindfulness to become a more effective leader. 

  1. Compassionate Leadership: How to create and maintain engaged, committed and high-performing teams by Manley Hopkinson 

Compassionate Leadership is a book that explores how to lead with compassion and use it to build successful and productive teams. The book provides practical advice on leading with empathy, building trust, fostering collaboration and innovation, and creating a culture of inclusion and respect. Hopkinson also discusses recognizing and addressing employee issues, creating a work environment that encourages openness and transparency, and developing a strong team culture. He offers strategies for effectively managing conflict and feedback and provides tips on delegating tasks and developing leaders. The book is a good resource for anyone looking to become a more compassionate leader and build successful and productive teams. 

  1. The Empathy Edge: Harnessing the Value of Compassion as an Engine for Success by Maria Ross.  

The Empathy Edge shows how empathy in the workplace can be a powerful tool for success. From her expertise in branding and her knowledge of research and stories from successful executives, change-makers, and community leaders, Ross reveals how empathy can help create a more productive and loyal work environment. She also provides practical advice on aligning a company’s mission and values with empathetic leadership and building an empathetic brand that will result in improved customer satisfaction, better innovation, and increased profits. With The Empathy Edge, Ross proves that empathy is not just good for society but great for business and may even profoundly impact an individual’s life. 

  1. Empathetic Leadership: 47 Practical Tips for Leading with Kindness, Courage, and Confidence in an Age of Disruption by Michael Brisciana 

Empathetic Leadership is a book that explores how empathy can be used as a powerful leadership tool in the modern workplace. The book provides 47 practical tips for leading with kindness, courage, and confidence in an age of disruption. The tips are divided into four sections: understanding empathy, developing empathy, leading with empathy, and supporting team members with empathy. The book explains how empathy can help leaders build strong relationships with their employees, foster collaboration and trust, and develop innovative solutions to complex problems. It also discusses how to create a culture of empathy and build an effective team. Finally, it provides practical advice on developing empathy in yourself and your team and how to use it to become a better leader. 

  1. The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook: A Proven Way to Accept Yourself, Build Inner Strength, and Thrive (2015) by Kristen Neff 

Kristen Neff is a leading expert on self-compassion and empathy and has written several books on the subject. The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook is a comprehensive guide to cultivating self-compassion and developing inner strength. It provides readers with a detailed understanding of what self-compassion is and how to grow it. The book looks at how to practice self-care, recognize self-critical thoughts, and accept and respond to difficult emotions. It also examines how to develop self-compassion skills, how to create a supportive environment, and how to use self-compassion to create lasting change. With this book, readers will better understand self-compassion and how to use it to build inner strength and create a more positive and fulfilling life. 

  1. The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions (2009) by Christoper Germer 

The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion is a book that explores how to cultivate self-compassion by understanding and embracing our own imperfections. Germer suggests that by recognizing and letting in our pain, we open the door to compassion and can learn to respond kindly to our own shortcomings. The book is broken down into two parts: Part I focuses on understanding the power of self-compassion. At the same time, Part II provides practical exercises and techniques to help cultivate self-compassion. The book emphasizes the importance of recognizing our needs, developing an understanding of our emotions, and learning to be kind to ourselves. Germer also stresses the need to practice mindfulness to become more aware of our emotions and how we react to them. 

  1. The Full Body Yes: Change Your Work and Your World from the Inside Out by Scott Shute 

The Full Body Yes is a guide to transforming your work and life from the inside out. It gives readers an understanding of using their inner strengths to create meaningful and successful lives. The book looks at how to tap into inner sources of power, develop an understanding of one’s emotions and motivations, and use this knowledge to create positive change. It also examines how to use self-awareness to create meaningful goals and develop a resilient mindset. With this book, readers will better understand how to use their inner strengths to create meaningful and successful lives. 

  1. Fierce Self-Compassion: How Women Can Harness Kindness to Speak Up, Claim Their Power, and Thrive by Kristin Neff 

Fierce Self-Compassion is a guide to cultivating self-compassion and speaking up to claim power and create change. It provides readers with an understanding of what self-compassion is and how to develop it to speak up and make lasting change. The book looks at how to practice self-care, recognize and manage emotions, and use mindfulness to cultivate self-compassion. Additionally, it examines how to develop self-compassion skills, how to create a supportive environment, and how to use self-compassion to create lasting change. With this book, readers will better understand self-compassion and how to use it to become a powerful advocate for change and create a positive and fulfilling life. 

Websites with Resources for Compassion and Empathy at Work: 

Here are ten websites for busy leaders looking to develop empathy and compassion in the workplace: 

Mindful: This website offers mindful meditations and other resources to help cultivate empathy and compassion. 

Greater Good Magazine– This magazine offers articles, stories, and research to help you understand empathy and compassion in the workplace. 

Heartmath: The Heartmath Institute has technology, courses, and articles to help better manage stressful emotions and connect to heart intelligence.   

Harvard Business Review: The Harvard Business Review regularly publishes articles, webinars, and research on empathy and compassion for leaders. 

Udemy - Popular online training site that has lots of on-demand courses on compassion and other leadership skills 

CompassionLab: This website provides tools, skills, and resources to help you develop compassion and empathy in the workplace. 

Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education– This Stanford University website offers research, resources, and videos to help you develop compassion and empathy in the workplace and beyond. 

Empathy Lab – This website provides tools and resources to help you develop empathy in the community  

The Center for Mindful Self-Compassion: This website offers audio meditations and expert-led courses to help you cultivate self-compassion. 

Compassion Institute: This website provides resources and courses to bring more meaning, purpose, and joy to your daily life.   

Articles on Compassion in the Workplace 

 Here are 12 articles for busy leaders to learn more about empathy and compassion in the workplace: 

“10 Ways to Bring More Compassion to the Workplace “by Tris Thorp 

In the article 10 Ways to Bring More Compassion to the workplace, published on the Chopra website, the author provides practical advice on cultivating a workplace culture. The article outlines ten strategies for creating a more compassionate workplace, including setting a human tone at the top, fostering a supportive environment, and encouraging kind and respectful behavior. The article discusses how to use compassion as a tool to build trust and respect and how to use it to foster a culture of collaboration. Additionally, the article suggests that having a compassionate workplace can improve productivity and decision-making. Ultimately, the report encourages readers to create a workplace based on compassion and respect.   

“4 Ways to Cultivate Inclusion and Compassion In the Workplace” by Nika White. This article discusses four ways that organizations can cultivate inclusion and compassion in the workplace. It suggests that organizations should create an environment of trust and respect, focus on developing emotional intelligence, practice active listening, and provide opportunities for employees to share their stories. Additionally, the article recommends that organizations encourage employees to practice self-care, be open to learning, and embrace diversity. By implementing these strategies, organizations can foster an environment of inclusion and compassion, leading to greater engagement and productivity. 

“Compassion is the Prerequisite for Inclusion” by Dr. Nate Regier. This article discusses how compassion is a prerequisite for inclusion in the workplace. It explains that compassion is about understanding the feelings of others and offering understanding and support. The article suggests that organizations should focus on creating an environment of trust and respect and cultivate emotional intelligence, active listening, and storytelling. Additionally, organizations should focus on self-care and embracing diversity. By implementing these strategies, organizations can create an atmosphere of inclusion and compassion, leading to greater engagement and productivity.   

“How to Fight Stress with Empathy” by Arthur Ciaramicoli This article discusses how to use empathy to fight stress. It explains that people can become overwhelmed by stress due to the unpredictable nature of life, which can lead to negative emotions such as anger and frustration. It suggests that practicing empathy can help combat these negative emotions by offering an alternative perspective and providing understanding. The article recommends that people should practice self-empathy to understand their own feelings and to practice empathy for others by listening and being understanding of their situations. By utilizing these strategies, people can reduce their stress levels and be more compassionate to themselves and others.   

“How to Be More Compassionate at Work” by Carley Hauck discusses how to be more compassionate at work, which it defines as being open and understanding to others even if they have different beliefs or situations. It suggests that this openness can be achieved by practicing active listening, using non-judgmental language, and understanding other people’s points of view. Additionally, the article recommends that people should take time to reflect on their own feelings and reactions to difficult situations and practice self-compassion. By implementing these strategies, people can be more compassionate and understanding at work. 

How Strong Leaders Support People Through Change by Erika Andersen This article discusses how strong leaders can help their team members transition through change by providing support, guidance, and reassurance. It explains that strong leaders need to be able to communicate the reasons for change, help employees make sense of it, and provide clear steps on how to adjust. Additionally, the article suggests that strong leaders should provide support and reassurance, listen to employees and address their concerns. Strong leaders can help their teams navigate change successfully by utilizing these strategies. 

To Get Employees to Empathize with Customers, Make Them Think Like Customers by Erin Henkel and Adam Grant 

This article discusses how organizations can encourage employees to empathize with customers by helping them think like customers. The report suggests that organizations can do this by providing employees with customer feedback, encouraging them to role-play customer scenarios, and helping them understand customer needs and motivations. Additionally, the article suggests that organizations should create customer-centric teams and reward employees for customer-oriented behavior. By doing these things, organizations can create a customer-focused culture that encourages empathy among employees. 

7 Ways for Leaders to Cultivate Self-Compassion by Georgina Miranda - In the article, the author provides practical advice for leaders on cultivating self-compassion. The report outlines seven key strategies, including focusing on self-care, learning to be mindful of your emotions, being kind to yourself, and accepting your mistakes. The article also discusses how self-compassion can help foster an environment of trust and respect and can lead to better decision-making. Ultimately, the paper argues that self-compassion is essential for successful leadership and encourages leaders to adopt it as a guiding principle. 

“The Focused Leader” by Daniel Goleman – The Focused Leader, an article published in the Harvard Business Review in December 2013, explores how leaders can become more focused and successful in their roles. The report argues that leaders should focus on the few key goals that will make the most significant difference to their organization’s success rather than trying to do everything at once. It also suggests that leaders should allocate resources strategically, delegate effectively, and set clear expectations in order to stay on track. Ultimately, the article argues that a focused approach to leadership can help organizations achieve their goals more quickly and effectively. 

“What Self-Compassion Is” by Kristin Neff – This article examines Kristen Neff discusses the three elements of self-compassion: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. Self-kindness involves treating oneself with kindness, understanding, and compassion. Common humanity recognizes that everyone experiences suffering and failure at times and that no one is perfect. Mindfulness is the ability to observe one’s thoughts and feelings without judgment. Neff argues that these three elements are essential for cultivating self-compassion and that by embracing them, we can learn to be more compassionate and understanding toward ourselves. 

“Three Surprising Ways That Gratitude Works at Work” by Robert Emmons – This article discusses the importance of gratitude in the workplace and how it can benefit organizations. It explains that gratitude can help increase employee engagement, team collaboration, and job satisfaction. It also reveals that appreciation can lead to more prosocial behavior and help foster a sense of community and trust among employees. Finally, it outlines several ways organizations can foster an environment of gratitude, such as encouraging employees to thank each other and recognizing team accomplishments. 

  1. Seven Keys to Increase Empathy with Dr. Helen Riess 

Here are a few podcasts for busy leaders looking to improve empathy and compassion in the workplace: 

“Looking to Motivate Someone to Change” by Amy Morin – This article provides practical communication tips to motivate someone to change using a technique called “Motivational Interviewing.” Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a counseling method that helps people explore and resolve ambivalence about their behavior. MI is based on the idea that people are more likely to change their behavior when they are listened to, respected, and allowed to express their goals and motivations. During an MI session, the counselor helps the individual explore their feelings and incentives, using this knowledge to help them identify and change their behavior. The goal of MI is to help the individual take ownership of their change process rather than simply being told what to do.     

Podcasts for Building Empathy at Work:  

  1. Unlocking Us with Brene Brown 
  1. Handle with Care Empathy at Work Podcast with Liesel Mertes 
  1. Future Tripping Podcast with Dr. Laura van Dernoot Lipsky 
  1. Metta Hour Podcast with Dr. Sharon Salzberg 
  1. On Compassion with Dr. Nate Podcast 
  1. 60 MIndful Minutes Podcast with Kristi Manieri 
  1. Love in Action Podcast Episode: Empathic Leadership with Dr. Michael Ventura 
  1. Minds and Mics Podcast with Dr. Nick Wignall 
  1. The Empathy Revolution with Dr. Roman Krznaric 


Victoria Hepburn, PCC is a remote career expert for values-driven professionals. She is available for media interviews, speaking engagements, and consulting projects.

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