07 Feb 2023

How do I actually show empathy? MENTALLY FIT TEAMS

Familiar with the buzzword ’empathy’ or being reminded continually of the importance of ’empathetic leadership?’


Yet are you left wondering… ‘how do I actually show empathy at work?’


You are not alone. As a professional coach supporting organisations get ‘the human stuff’ right, I often hear comments from leaders and team members such as…


  • Im not naturally good at showing empathy,
  • I’m not sure what to actually do.
  • I don’t want to loose respect if I show too much empathy
  • I don’t want my team to loose their accountability


Most agree empathy is important. And consistent research positions empathy as the #1 leadership skill.


It’s easy to see why it falls #1. The WHO shared an article recently, stating those with empathetic leaders self-reported feeling*


48% more innovative

44% more engaged

42% more loyal

33% more included

26% more able to navigate work-life demands

*Catalyst 2021


3 ideas to actually show empathy at work like a champion 🏆

Here are 3 tips I regularly share to organisation, to help leaders and teams actually show empathy, everyday, inside and outside of work.


1. Connect to people’s feelings not their experiences.

Often we cannot relate to someone’s experience or situation. We can’t walk in their shoes. We end up trying to, and just feeling sorry for them or even frustrated. When we try to connect to someone’s experience we can end up showing sympathy (feeling sorry for them and peddling to find silver linings to help them) Sympathy can make people feel even more isolated.

But, consider instead…we each know what anger, fear, worry, hurt, disappointment etc feels like. We can all relate to these feelings because we have felt these things ourselves. When we connect to people’s feelings we unlock our empathy, and we can authentically tell someone we care.


2. Find common ground.

It can be polarising that we are often trying to find and celebrate difference. But difference, can also prevent us from also seeing all we have in common, despite our  varying opinions.

Sharing stories with others is the greatest way to share the basic human themes, joys and challenges we all face. Finding common ground through storytelling helps us to share our imperfections and mistakes more openly, acknowledging that life, with the wins, also has disappointments for us all.


3.Do something for someone. Show compassion.

While showing empathy is connecting to someone’s feelings and ‘telling’ them you care, compassion allows us to take action. When we couple empathy with compassion we ‘show’ others we care by taking action and doing something to support them. This can be something big or small, an action that helps them achieve a goal, or overcome a roadblock or challenge.


So if you are keen to keep trying out more empathy at work, try these 3 ideas to put your empathy into visible action.

  1. Try connecting to others feelings.
  2. Find common ground through sharing stories with each other.
  3. And take empathy 1 step further by showing compassion, taking a small action to support someone who may need it.


We can all do empathy. We can all be good at it. We will all gain respect. And we will all have higher performing, happier team players with a greater willingness to be accountable.


#Empathy #MentallyFitTeams #Leadership #2023goals


Poppy Griffiths is a professional coach and Director of UnlimitU a high-performance coaching consultancy, which supports the inclusion of working parents, women in leadership and the mental wellbeing of teams. If you are interested in private or organisational coaching, group coaching workshops, or a high energy keynote, please get in touch. poppy@unlimitu.com.au  


Poppy is UnlimitU's founder and principal success coach. "Every human has more potential, hidden, held back or in the making"