Types of Empathy

There are three types of empathy. The difference between them is in the action taken. So, while many of us might identify as very empathetic, we are too nervous to take action. In workplaces that don’t prioritize empathy, it might even feel taboo to take time out of your busy day to create bonds, offer sympathy, or act as a source of support for our colleagues.

1. Cognitive Empathy

Cognitive empathy describes the emotional capacity to understand what another person might be thinking or feeling. However, cognitive empathy typically does not include any emotional engagement or support. In fact, some of your empathy-enabled folks can use cognitive empathy to manipulate vulnerable people.

Examples of Cognitive Empathy:

2. Emotional Empathy

Emotional empathy is the ability to sense and share the feelings of another person. A step beyond cognitive empathy, emotional empathy changes the person experiencing it. They might take it on, relate it to their own experience, or become overwhelmingly burdened by it.

Examples of Emotional Empathy:

3. Compassionate Empathy

Compassionate empathy is the type of empathy we’ll be exploring in this article. It’s the most active form of empathy. This empathy involves feeling concerned and reaching out with actionable steps to remedy or reduce the impact.

Examples of Compassionate Empathy:

Why Empathy Matters At Work

Everyone wants to be productive—our productivity “hacks” are some of the most popular articles and resources we have. And I get it, I do. More work done in less time? Absolutely ideal. This is why I’m so excited to tell you all about our latest productivity hack—being empathetic.

Workplaces that focus on fostering empathetic work cultures are more productive and have higher employee satisfaction and retention rates than those that don’t. Businesses that integrate emotional intelligence in their companies through flexible policies and empathetic management styles outperform their rivals.

Not to mention, diverse and inclusive offices can only truly work if there is empathetic leadership. (And we already know that companies perform better when their talent is diverse.) If you hire talent without cultivating those employees’ knowledge and experience, you’re not really doing anything. Empathy allows you to embrace our differences, and empathetic leadership fosters those differences—different ideas, different perspectives, different strengths and weaknesses—to build better teams. To build better companies.

According to HBR’s 2016 Empathy Index (I, too, was unaware that an “Empathy Index” existed, but here we are), Entrepreneur explains, “The companies the index described as the most empathetic—Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Netflix and Unilever—are indisputable leaders in their categories, signaling that empathetic individuals not only are more successful but empathetic teams, as a whole, are, too.”

Okay, so now that I’ve said it, scientists have said it, other people have said it—I hope you believe me when I say that empathy is an absolute must for any company’s set of values. (And yours, as an individual, too.) Now, let’s talk about how you can integrate empathy at your company.

What Traits Make an Individual Empathetic in the Workplace?

Empathy and the capacity to connect with people are essential skills in both our professional and personal life. Empathy in the workplace, which is a crucial component of emotional competence and leadership efficiency, enhances human connections in general and may result in more effective engagement and beneficial outcomes at both the individual and organizational levels.

Compared to 75 percent of employees on average, 83 percent of Gen Z employees would prefer an organization with a strong atmosphere of empathy over one giving a little better compensation. This is because empathic leaders and managers understand that a company’s bottom line can only be achieved through and with people. As a result, they have an accessible and empathetic attitude toward their team members’ sentiments and thoughts.



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