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Building Empathy

“Seek first to Understand then be Understood”
Stephen Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

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Workshop Session Plan
Key Learning Outcomes


Workshop Focus:
Participants learn about the power of empathy and this awareness minimises conflict, prevents bullying and develops harmony in the workplace.
Half day workshop
Target Audience:
Staff and management
Expected Outcomes:
Participants will have an understanding of empathy and the effectiveness of applying empathy in communications and decision making.  Participants will become aware of how empathy builds understanding, shared power, consideration and sensitivity for the needs of others.  As a result of this others will mirror empathy in their dealings.  Participants will notice it decreases unnecessary conflict, improves communication and prevents bullying.


Empathy is another critical area of exploration and training. It is essential in today’s world that organisations develop empathy in employees. Not only will it have a major impact on the reduction of conflict and in particular, bullying, it will build empowered communities at work.

Empathy is often termed ‘standing in another’s shoes’, imagining what it is like to be someone else. Expanding one’s circle of concern beyond the self to others is very important in working in teams and creating efficient, collaborative environments. In respect of parenting, empathy can be regarded as the mother noticing her child is hurt and speaking to the child in a way that serves the child, the child feels cared about and attended to. Adults are no different but they tend to wear adult masks which hide the child within. Every person responds to another’s interest and care of their situation. In dispute resolution the ability to deeply listen to another person de-escalates conflict and creates understanding. Environments where empathy exist tend to have fewer miscommunications, create lasting friendships, work well together and provide support in environments that are often stressed, fast paced and time poor. Emotionally intelligent staff can ensure cooperation occurs and tasks get done and at the same time care about the needs and concerns of others. These workplaces retain their staff and foster innovation, creativity and efficiencies through learning to truly work together.  What they see in others they can identify in themselves and they support where they can or problem solve to sought out the problem. These are environments where no-one says on seeing someone struggling ‘it is not my problem’, they get together with others to help the person struggling or find a solution with management.

Empathy is one of the most important areas to develop with staff.


Workshop Session Plan

The workshop session plan is as follows:

  • Definition of empathy
  • Learning to imagine what it is like for the other
  • šSelf-centred or people-centred workplaces
  • šSolo or interactive work practices
  • Exploring empathy
  • What are empathy blockers?
  • An overview of communication no-no’s
  • Do you know your blind spot and blockages
  • šWhat are empathy openers?
  • šAre you Listening?
  • What is your behavioural style?  DISC method
  • šRole Play empathetic interactions
  • Summary


Key Learning Outcomes

  • Participants will become aware of what empathy is, what it feels like and how to practice empathy
  • Participants will become aware of what blocks empathy and poor communication
  • Participants will become self reflective in terms of their own personal style – isolating, collaborative etc.
  • Participants will become acquainted with their blind spots and those they have observed in the workplace
  • Participants will learn about their own ways to block out information through denial and avoidance
  • Participants will learn how to open empathy, how to encourage conversations and face issues in proactive ways
  • Participants will learn about their own behavioural styles in order to understand diversity at work without judgement
  • Participants will role play what is empathy and what it is not to develop a deeper sense of self understanding and observation of colleagues
  • Participants will understand that communication is about balance and sharing space
  • Participants will learn how to use I-Statements to state their case from their own perspective
  • Participants will learn about the assertiveness triangle and understand the differences between passive and aggressive styles