Mental Health Week: How Businesses Can Practice Empathy in the Workplace

By Jordan Friesen & Mike Armson

Each week, at least 500,000 Canadians pass up do the job thanks to mental ailment and the resulting private, office and economic impacts can be devastating.

May 2nd marks the beginning of The Canadian Psychological Health Association’s (CMHA) Psychological Well being 7 days. Considering the fact that 1951, CMHA has been marking this week to make recognition and rally assist from faculties, communities, businesses, and leaders close to psychological wellbeing. This yr, the focus of Mental Wellbeing 7 days is on empathy, or in other phrases, the skill to realize an individual else’s feelings. To us at Headway, this is an important topic, due to the fact in our mission to aid healthful minds at work, we know that knowing how someone else is sensation is often an critical first stage.

We spoke with workplace psychological health and fitness specialist, Jordan Friesen about his ideas for practicing empathy in the place of work. As President of Mindset Psychological Overall health System Inc., Jordan supports leaders across a diverse array of industries to meaningfully shift the needle on psychological wellness in their place of work.  Right here is what Jordan instructed us about building empathy at get the job done:

Empathy is not just a mushy emotional ability.

It is the capacity to location ourselves in a person else’s truth and can help us do a quantity of distinctive items:

  • Understand a colleague’s reactions to a massive wide range of conditions (operate-linked and normally)
  • Assess our individual behaviours and their impact
  • Respond properly when workers disclose emotional or particular concerns
  • Successfully map a purchaser or shopper journey
  • Determine and take care of conflict when it provides alone
  • Even negotiate, influence, or sell

A precursor to empathy is psychological literacy.

In standard, most of us have an underdeveloped psychological vocabulary created up of sad, mad, and glad. To use empathy effectively, we need to have to be ready to develop our emotional vocabulary first to improved capture and recognize the nuanced psychological states of other people.

Empathy is not the same as sympathy.

This is seriously about the perspective from which you are responding. If you’re relating to anyone as a result of your have encounter (e.g., I can picture how you truly feel for the reason that I felt x-y-z when the identical detail transpired to me) you are not demonstrating empathy.

Empathy is about extra than perspective getting.

It has a couple parts:

  • The potential to listen intently for the concept at the rear of the words (and infer an emotional condition)
  • The potential to come to feel as an individual else could be sensation
  • The potential to express your knowledge back again to them – this is the piece that most people pass up. Could be conveyed through words and phrases or even overall body language, the empathy entails interaction again to the other individual 

Some strategies for concrete means to build empathy in the place of work:

  • Exercise naming the way you’re emotion – make your own emotional literacy
  • Empathy Mapping – prior to a assembly or 1:1 consider a couple of minutes, write someone’s identify on a blank piece of paper, and then create down everything you can envision about what is likely on all-around them that working day. The place are they working? Do they have family members or animals all over? What have they been doing work on? What assembly did they just occur from? And then think about how that might be impacting their internal condition. You will be equipped to enter that dialogue with a increased appreciation of their viewpoint and that will make empathy easier.
  • Tune out distractions in-the-instant. Empathy requires a significant degree of focus and emphasis. Limit multi-tasking and give folks your full focus.
  • Take into account the lens of situational humility. This is a useful application of empathy – understanding when other folks know far more or are far more capable of undertaking something than you, no matter of hierarchy or posture. If one more particular person understands additional or is extra capable than you, permit them guide.

By adopting some of Jordan’s finest practices this Mental Health and fitness Week and past, we can all develop into a lot more empathetic in our each day work lives. And in practising empathy, we can not only assistance our colleagues when issues are heading well, we can also know how ideal to offer you them assist when they have to have it.

For far more information about making healthier minds at do the job, go to our Headway page or e mail us at [email protected] 

To find out far more about how Jordan can help your company establish greatest practices all over psychological well being, pay a visit to