Communication: Is empathy needed to be successful?
Communication: Is empathy needed to be successful?
Post written by Paragon Interiors   March 12, 2018

You can never understand someone unless you understand their point of view, climb in that person’s skin, or stand and walk in that person’s shoes.” – Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird

We have all been there, it’s been a long day at the office and finally lunch time has arrived. You go to the office café and nobody is there. ‘Perfect!’ you think to yourself, now you can finally catch up on your social media feeds and answer some messages. The door swings open. It’s Susan. She has spotted you and tries to start some small talk. You begin to pack up your things but alas, it’s too late… She stops you. Now she’s talking about her mom’s boils. EEEECK! You think ’how can I get out of this?’

Have you ever felt like this? Do you regularly avoid having long and awkward conversations with your colleagues?

The world is constantly changing and evolving. It’s becoming more important for people to understand one another. Empathy has become the new hot topic for identifying ways to increase productivity in your business.

What is empathy?

Empathy can be defined in two parts;

  • The ability to understand other people’s feelings, and
  • The ability to share one’s feelings with other people

Empathy is a key aspect to being emotionally intelligent – a critical success factor in the workplace. Defined as the ability to manage and influence your own emotions and the emotions of the people around you (Psychology Today, 2018), emotionally intelligent people are able to ‘put themselves in the other’s’ shoes to understand the reasons for their behaviour.

Now that we understand what empathy is…

Why should you care?

  1. Aids in developing close relationships

By understanding our co-workers better and expressing our own feelings to one another we help encourage a trusting workspace. Teamwork will be easier as colleagues who trust one another are more likely to work unitedly. Learning more about one another can help you develop long-lasting friendships in the workplace.

  1. Helps you have a better idea of the challenges that lie ahead

Empathy among colleagues helps people feel safe. Colleagues will feel comfortable enough to own up to their failures or shortcomings. This allows the whole team a chance to address these failures and work towards helping the struggling employee to improve and excel.


Showing empathy

Here are a few tips:

Really listening to your colleagues

Maintain eye contact while the person is speaking to you. Make comments on what is being said. Ask questions to clarify your understanding. If you have time, take a look at our blog on active listening. Pay close attention to gestures and facial expressions. Practice when watching TV. Mute the TV and try and understand how the actors are feeling just by reading their facial expressions. (Rise Staff, 2016)

Ensuring open communication between one another

Have regular ‘check-in’s’. This could mean making time to have a short coffee break with a colleague to catch up with them.

Put yourself in the other persons shoes

Try understanding the person by learning about who they are. Spend time learning more about the person’s background, likes, and dislikes.

You’re not as empathetic as you think you are

Stress and time pressures, makes it difficult to notice the people around us. Distraction kills empathy. Therefore, we should make extra effort to show our fellow colleagues awareness. Empathy does not always come easy for some. Showing empathy may be hard work. It takes time and effort to create an understanding and awareness of other people and it sometimes means putting other people’s thoughts and opinions above your own. Even showing a little awareness to your colleagues goes a long way.

When you go to work today, make the effort to ask a colleague how they are doing. Listen carefully to them and share your own feelings with them too.

People are a vital part of the functioning of an organisation. To learn more about the people in your organisation and their office needs contact Paragon Interiors on 011 706 5123.


Pressley, D. (2012, November 16). The Importance of Empathy in the Workplace. Retrieved from Smart Business Online:

Psychology Today. (2018). Emotional Intelligence . Retrieved from Psychology Today:

Rise Staff. (2016, March 17). The importance of empathy in the workplace. Retrieved from Rise: