Empathy: a key to transform relationships and culture

Imagine a culture where all people feels aligned and connected with a clear sense of purpose, and there is consequently a great sense of goodwill, cooperation, productivity, and innovation as a result. 

It's well known that your emotions as a leader are contagious, and that you set the tone for your family’s and organisation’s culture. So, how about setting the tone of empathy in our world? 

Empathy is that secret ingredient which is the glue in relationships...it helps people to feel connectd, cared for, and important. It gives people a sense that what they feel is noticed and who they are is valued, and it gives them more a sense of safety to really express themselves and their full potential. 

How can you create such a positive environment with your family, or in your organisation? 
Start with the simple practice of empathy. 


Here's a simple 'empathy-building' exercise which I first learned from a practitioner of Avatar, an international personal development program. I recommend you begin practicing this in small ways and notice how your ability to connect with others improves. You’ll find yourself more deeply respecting your team at work as well as your personal relationships outside of work. 

You can practice this exercise silently, anywhere you're in a public place...perhaps a restaurant, shopping centre, train station, or business meeting. 

First of all, focus on someone who you may find difficult relating to. It doesn't have to be someone you know well - anyone who you might have even a slightly negative reaction to will do. Now, hold an image of this person in your mind or look at them discreetly as you say the following four statements to yourself: 

1. Just like me, this person is wanting to find happiness. 

2. Just like me, this person is wanting to avoid suffering. 

3. Just like me, this person is seeking to fulfill his/her needs. 

Just like me, this person is learning about life. 

What you'll notice after practicing this for a few minutes, you'll begin to feel empathy for this person, and your normal reaction which might be negative will soften. We humans are naturally empathetic beings, and yet sometimes our empathy has been schooled out of us with an overemphasis on appearance,appropriateness, and self-reliance. 

Imagine if you could begin to set the tone of empathy, allowing others to feel your caring. This would result in more transparency, emotional safety, and trust which are so critical to true creativity and energised, productive, and enjoyable work. Why not begin creating such an environment starting with the simple yet powerful practice of empathy? 

Sally Mabelle, ‘The Voice of Leadership’ Specialist.  www.sallymabelle.com  -  Inspiring clear, confident, and connected communication for personal and cultural transformation.