The Empathy Foundation Network

Growing empathy for a peaceful world

Empathy is an emotional and thinking muscle that becomes stronger the more we use it. Try some of these suggestions and watch the reactions of those you work with. I believe you will notice some positive results.

Also notice how you feel yourself. The heart connection of empathy is intrinsically pleasurable. No other results are needed.

1.Listen – truly listen to people. Listen with your ears, eyes and heart. Pay attention to others’ body language, to their tone of voice, to the hidden emotions behind what they are saying to you, and to the context.

2. Allow people their moment. Be aware of and restrain as best you can these empathy blockers:   interrupting people; dismissing their concerns offhand; rushing to give advice; changing the subject.

3. Tune in to non-verbal communication. This is the way that people often communicate what they think or feel, even when their verbal communication says something quite different.

4. Be mindful of your non-verbal communication too. We know from a famous study by Professor Emeriti, Albert Mehrabian of UCLA, that words – the things we say – account for only 7% of the total message that people receive. The other 93% of the message that we communicate when we speak is contained in our tone of voice and body language. It’s important, then, to spend some time to understand how we come across when we communicate with others. A simple thing like frowning or a raised eyebrow when someone is explaining their point of view, or looking at your watch,  can disconnect us from the speaker and make us appear as though we lack understanding.

5. Use people’s name. Also remember the names of people’s spouse and children so that you can refer to them by name.

6. Be fully present when you are conversing with people. Ask if it's OK before you check your email,  or take phone calls, text messages, or online chat when someone is talking with you. Put yourself in their shoes. How do you feel when someone does that if you are looking for their full attention?

7. Smile genuinely at people. When the upturned lip corners lack sincerity, people know it. A genuine smile is an index of your sincerity and without sincerity, there cannot be empathy.

8. Encourage people, particularly the quiet ones, when they speak up in meetings. A simple thing like an attentive nod can boost people’s confidence.

9. Give genuine recognition and acknowledgement. Pay attention to what people are doing and catch them doing the right things. When you give acknowledgement and appreciation, spend a little effort to make your genuine words memorable: “You are an asset to this team because..”; “This was pure genius”; “I would have missed this if you hadn’t picked it up.”

10. Take a personal interest in people. Show people that you care by taking a personal interest in them. Show genuine curiosity about their lives. Ask them questions about their hobbies, their challenges, their families, their aspirations.


Note from Alice: This list of empathy tips is all over the internet! Many people don't attribute it but on this excellent site Mind Tools they didit like this. The original 10 Empathy Tips come from Bruna Martinuzzi’s book: The Leader as a Mensch: Become the Kind of Person Others Want to Fo... Bruna is an educator, author, speaker and founder of Clarion Enterprises Ltd, a company which specializes in emotional intelligence, leadership, Myers-Briggs and presentation skills training. Click here to contact her or visit her website at Click here for other articles by Bruna.

I have modified the list to express some points in a gentler, less bossy way.

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