Empathy is not a fluffy term!

I am very surprised every time I hear from business leaders that empathy is fluffy.

Empathy often belongs to customer and product teams when designing empathy maps to better understand their customers, but empathy as a business imperative? Not that common.

But, what is EMPATHY, and why do we need it?

Empathy is not just a design thinking tool to gather customer insights. Empathy is not, and should not be, divided by gender. I am sorry, but empathy is not a fluffy word in business.

Empathy is connection and the birthplace of compassion. And guess what? A team fuelled with empathy is more likely to develop a sense of belonging which is a critical driver of inclusion in the workplace. Research also shows that a workplace with a strong feeling of belonging and community will outperform workplaces with lower levels of belonging. Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. 

If you feel home at work and psychologically safe within your team, you will also tend to generate more ideas without the fear of judgement. And the equation is simple: more ideas = more innovation

Who doesn’t want to feel home at work? And which businesses out there don’t want a high-performing and an innovative workforce? 

The good news is that empathy can be trained, and if you’re interested in practicing empathy at work, these are my top tips for boosting empathy in your workplace. 

  1. When someone in your team makes a mistake, instead of jumping to judgement, try to connect/empathise to the feeling the other person is going through. By doing that, you will resonate with the struggle and be more willing to help. After all, who doesn’t make a mistake at work?

  2. If you’re a leader, share your failures with your team. Being authentic and showing vulnerability will encourage team members to develop connection.

Empathy is the antidote to shame, so encouraging an empathetic working environment will assist with the promotion of an inclusive workplace.

I tend to think of a divergent funnel where empathy is at the start influencing behaviour and culture to promote an inclusive culture.


So…do you still think that empathy is a fluffy word? 

For an extra empathy boost we started using our empathy boost cards with clients and with our team at Think Talent. Are you curious about the empathy cards? Ask me for a coffee!

Beatriz Affonso
Program Lead