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Developing an Effective Workforce in the Age of Empathy

Find out how a degree in psychology can help you understand the role of empathy in the workplace.

Those with a psychology degree would agree that empathy—the action of understanding and sharing another person’s experiences and emotions—is a complex interpersonal skill. While everyone is born with the capacity for empathy, it’s a critical skill that needs to be developed.

Children naturally learn empathy from observing those around them. In the early years, their model is most likely parents who demonstrate self-awareness and consideration of others.1 Parents can also actively teach empathy by providing opportunities for children to practice caring, such as participating in community service or having family meetings to resolve conflicts.

Developing an Effective Workforce in the Age of Empathy

Empathy remains a critical skill into adulthood. In the workplace, empathy is an important part of emotional intelligence that allows people to validate, understand, and work with others to develop better solutions and outcomes. Researchers at the Center for Creative Leadership found that “empathy is positively related to job performance.” The study concluded that “managers who show more empathy toward direct reports are viewed as better performers in their job by their bosses.”2

When it comes to developing empathy in the workplace, a Journal of Counseling Psychology study finds that training programs can be effective.3 Training programs can involve outlining the benefits of demonstrating empathy, teaching ways to recognize and feel others’ emotions, and showing how to talk about emotions.4

Practicing empathy can strengthen our skill in it, and some of the best ways to encourage a more empathic workforce include:2

  • Openly discussing empathy: Communicate the importance and value of empathy just as you would the importance of reaching goals. Empathetic gestures may be more impactful because they have the power to improve performance and effectiveness.
  • Developing good listeners: With skilled listeners as managers, employees can feel like they are being respected. Skilled listeners pay attention to nonverbal cues and express an understanding of concerns and problems.
  • Supporting the workforce: Today’s competitive global marketplace requires working with colleagues and customers with varying cultures, perspectives, and experiences. Understanding cultural context helps contribute to productive interactions among colleagues, which can lead to more success in the workplace.

Many aspects of career and personal life require the ability to relate to people of different cultures and diverse backgrounds. Earning a BS in Psychology can teach you the value of acquiring interpersonal and communication skills—such as empathy—that are desired by employers from all sectors of the professional workforce. Students earning their psychology degree online learn how to examine key factors related to understanding life in a multicultural world, with classmates from all over the world, effectively practicing what they learn almost immediately. A bachelor’s in psychology from Walden University can help open doors to a number of career opportunities both in and outside the field of mental health, and can help you understand the power of empathy in the workplace.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a BS in Psychology degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.


1Source: https://mcc.gse.harvard.edu/resources-for-families/5-tips-cultivating-empathy
2Source: www.ccl.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/EmpathyInTheWorkplace.pdf
3Source: http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/cou/63/1/32/
4Source: http://theconversation.com/children-learn-empathy-growing-up-but-can-we-train-adults-to-have-more-of-it-68153.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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