Empathy in the Workplace
As part of our DEI&B Speaker Series, we held an online workshop on empathy in the workplace. Here are three ways the InCheck team is putting that learning into practice.
“What does being empathetic, sympathetic, and compassionate mean?”
That was the opening question the InCheck team explored during our latest empathy workshop held as part of our ongoing commitment to CEO Action. Alonzo Kelly, President and Founder of Kelly Leadership Group, an organization dedicated to evolving the journey of professionals to become stronger leaders, joined the entire InCheck team for a 30-minute conversation where he helped dig deeper into these questions and encouraged InCheckers to express our understanding.
Alonzo shared stories of his time in college, navigating threats of hate and violence as he became known as a DEI advocate and speaker. Alonzo reinformed that we can show empathy, sympathy, and compassion to people even if we don’t fully understand how people are feeling. In response, the team shared examples from their personal and professional lives where expressions of empathy, sympathy, and compassion made an impact. We also shared stories about when someone’s actions fell short.
The team was engaged, curious, and interested in examining what empathy meant to them. And more important, how to ‘do’ empathy at work, home, and community.
And after thinking about the session and the InCheck team’s comments and stories shared, it got us thinking about how we put empathy to work.
Help people feel seen by actively listening.
Alonzo shared that one of the sayings he heard years ago was, ‘Make room for me and have one conversation at a time.’ InCheck is building a collaborative, service-first organization. We are an extension of our clients’ Talent Acquisition teams. We want our clients and candidates to have a positive hiring experience.
You don’t have to always try to solve the problem.
After our workshop, we watched a brief video on how to “do” empathy in the workplace. One of the takeaways was that not every discussion requires us to come up with a solution. Sometimes, what people need more than a solution is the acknowledgment that they’ve been heard and understood.
This workshop challenged the habit of solving problems quickly. What would it look like if we gave people space to express themselves? Instead of giving tips and advice, what would it change our work relationships and the outcome?
Actively listening, then demonstrating understanding by asking to confirm what you’ve heard is a great way to show that you’re engaged and paying attention.
Be completely present.
Our workshop closed with a few reminders of what empathy is not. Empathy does not mean agreement. Empathy does not mean investigating. It’s not about leading, asking questions, offering advice, or giving suggestions.
Rather, we concluded that empathy is about being completely present, actively listening, and letting others express their concerns or issues. One of the greatest gifts we can give each other is to be completely present.
InCheck is on a learning journey, exploring diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging with experts like Alonzo Kelly. As always, he left us with a lot to think about and some tools to put into practice both at work and in our personal lives. So far, we’ve covered topics like navigating change, exploring how our worldview informs our values, and how to evolve our thinking through better communication and a commitment to understanding each other.
We hold these Days of Understanding as part of our continuous efforts to foster an inclusive and equitable workplace. These workshops empower InCheck with the tools to have meaningful conversations with each other, our clients, and our communities. Contact us to learn more about our company story and services.