How Can I Reflect Empathy in My Workplace?

Here in Michigan, we endure the snow, ice and cold until a new season starts to break through. Feeling the freezing air sting my uncovered face forces me to take notice. The shards of ice may slice through me like glass when someone speaks negatively. I feel pain, but how do I respond? What I reflect back to them can depend on how in tune I am with empathic listening. I may attempt to understand what they are feeling. But do I really empathize? Six years ago, I moved from a competitive culture focused on leading without empathy to a more merciful value-based setting that encourages growth. With a goal of “walking in the shoes of another” it is a kinder and gentler setting, I have learned to love.

How Can I Be An Empathetic Leader in My Job?

Nurses demonstrate empathy through their ability to understand the feelings and emotions of others. Empathy can be reflected in many ways:

Listening with the intention to understand.

Instead of judging or not acknowledging another, what would it mean to truly walk alongside them?

Feel their struggles?

Understand what they are going through in a deeper and more meaningful way?

This might include crying with them. Not saying anything, but being there for them.

In this empathetic culture we should assume good intent which means always believing a person meant
well or was trying to do their best, no matter what they said. We should not act judgmentally but instead use empathetic listening and care. “Assuming good intentions” is one of the qualities I find so important in leadership which leads to empathy for others.

How Do We Nurture This Quality in Ourselves and Others?

The board is listening for clarity. As we listen to you share, we focus on understanding you and your needs and believe this is one step toward reflecting empathy. Please share your questions, concerns, and stories of what you are experiencing (LINK here back to comments for Mideast Region). We love hearing from you and look forward to learning how you experience and share empathy in your daily work.

Warm regards,
Deb Crawford
President Mideast Region of the WOCN® Society