How Can Managers Develop Empathy?

As a manager, one of your most important jobs is understanding and supporting your team. After all, your team is made up of individuals with their own lives, experiences, and challenges—and they deserve to be treated with empathy. But what does it mean to be an empathetic manager? And how can you develop your empathy skills?

5 Tips for Managers to Develop Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. It is a key component of emotional intelligence, and it can be a valuable asset for managers. Developing empathy allows managers to better understand their employees’ motivations and concerns. It also enables them to create a more supportive and positive work environment. Here are five tips to develop your empathy.

1. Listen Without Judgment

The first step to developing empathy as a manager is learning to listen without judgment. Hear what your team members are saying and understand their perspectives—even if you don’t necessarily agree with them. It’s not about passing judgment or trying to “fix” someone; it’s about listening with the intention of understanding.


2. Put Yourself in Their Shoes

Another way to develop empathy skills is to see things from your team members’ perspectives. This doesn’t mean that you have to agree with them. However, it does mean that you should try to understand where they’re coming from. Consider their backgrounds, experiences, and motivations when sharing something with you.

3. Ask Open-Ended Questions

Develop empathy by asking questions. Asking open-ended questions is a great way to encourage open communication. Additionally, it shows that you’re interested in hearing what your team members say. Avoid yes-or-no questions, and instead, ask questions that start with who, what, when, where, why, or how. For example, “What do you think we could do differently in this situation?” or “How do you feel about this proposal?”

4. Be Genuinely Interested in Them as People

Finally, one of the best ways for managers to develop empathy is simply to be genuinely interested in your team members as people—not just as employees. Get to know them personally, and let them get to know you too. When you have a good relationship with someone, it’s much easier to empathize with them— even when things are tough at work.


5. Practice Self-Awareness

To develop empathy, you first must be aware of your thoughts and feelings. Pay attention to your own emotions so that you can better understand how others are feeling. This will also help you avoid reacting emotionally in difficult situations.

Developing your empathy skills as a manager is essential for building a strong, supportive team. By learning how to listen without judgment, putting yourself in your team member’s shoes, asking open-ended questions, and being genuinely interested in them as people, you can become the empathetic leader they need and deserve.

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Jason Cortel is currently the Director of Global Workforce Management for a leading technology company. He has been in customer service, marketing, and sales services for over 20 years. In addition, he has extensive experience in offshore and nearshore outsourcing. Jason is an avid Star Trek fan and is on a mission to change the universe by helping people develop professionally. He is driven to help managers and leaders lead their teams better. Jason is also a veteran in creating talent and office cultures.

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