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Empathy Training

Jarrad Asquith
Kaitlyn Loft

By Jarrad Asquith, Faciliator, and Kaitlyn Loft, Learning Designer,
14 June 2024

Thinka’s ‘Promote Empathy’ Workshop

Many people think of empathy as something soft and fuzzy, and that by being vulnerable and caring about others it makes them weak. Yet empathy is one of the hardest human skills to cultivate. It’s about being aware and feeling into other people’s experiences – even when it’s uncomfortable and hard. When you’re truly empathetic, you’re prepared to be present with others; offering support but suspending judgement. There’s nothing soft about this skill and teams are all the richer and more productive because of it.

What teams will explore

  • A definition of empathy and what it means
  • Values and how they shape behaviour
  • Untangling difficult emotions: a framework
  • Using language to promote connection
  • Cultivating long-term relationships

What teams will apply

  • Skills to empathise and accept differences
  • Understanding of people’s personal values
  • Skills to work through emotional ambiguity
  • A vocabulary for connecting with others
  • An ability to value long-term over short-term
Workshop Purpose

Empathy skills are essential for the future of work. When you have a team that is proficient in self-awareness, seeing different perspectives, and keeping an open mind, you’re better able to achieve outcomes. In this increasingly complex world of work, employees are faced with challenging situations more regularly and need effective interpersonal skills to deal with these. The purpose of this workshop is to help teams with tools and strategies for growing their capabilities in empathy, so they can build better, healthier relationships.

Working with organisations in Melbourne, Sydney and across Australia, we know that teams are facing challenges like never before. Here’s a few of them:

  1. Psychosocial hazards: Australian organisations are now responsible for doing more to protect their employees from psychosocial hazards. Employees with skills in both emotional empathy and cognitive empathy will become increasingly desirable, as the power of empathy helps people maintain better relationships and a better workplace culture.
  2. Mental health: 1 in 5 Australians are currently experiencing a mental health issue. Skills in empathy can help employees understand each other and be more supportive to improve mental health outcomes. Empathy helps employees feel into what others are experiencing and understand the challenges they’re facing.
  3. Complex world of work: Living in a ‘VUCA’ (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) environment means teams need to be able to cope with constant challenges. Covid recovery, economic instability and hybrid working have all had a profound emotional impact and empathy in the workplace helps people have compassion for each other.
  4. Hybrid working: There aren’t as many ‘across the desk’ conversations in this hybrid working world. Employees with strong empathy skills know how to reach out and connect with different people to make sure collaboration is consistent and strong.
  5. Flatter hierarchies: More and more, organisations are becoming flatter with employees having more responsibility and autonomy. Team members are expected to initiate conversations and working relationships with others on their own to achieve outcomes. Skills in empathy help employees make smoother, easier connections.

Overall, these challenges can make it more difficult for teams if they’re not skilled in empathy and know how to build connection. However, with the right support such as Empathy Training, coaching sessions, and support from leaders, employees can thrive in this complex world of work.

Workshop Benefits

With the help of this Empathy Course, skills that teams can put in place to enhance performance include:

  1. Emotional Intelligence: Employees who are self-aware and understand others and their individual points of view, are more compassionate. Emotional intelligence is key in robust decision-making as all perspectives are recognised, and it allows for easier collaboration on tasks and projects.
  2. Perspective taking: Conflict can arise when there are different perspectives in the workplace, but employees who can appreciate different points of view are better placed engage in this type of problem solving. Team members increase their perspective-taking skills by staying calm and objective in situations, truly listening to others, and working collaboratively to find solutions.
  3. Holding space: Team members who can hold space for each other and understand, are more likely to build better, healthier relationships. Employees can build this this capability by applying active listening skills, refraining from judgement, and displaying open body language and facial expressions.
  4. Self-reflection: Employees who engage in regular reflective practice learn from their mistakes and interactions to improve their ability to show empathy. Empathetic people are those who are willing to learn and become better humans as a result – so they can show up for others.
  5. Trust-building: When you truly understand a person’s perspective and a person’s feelings, it goes a long way to signalling trust and connection. This paves the way for long-lasting relationships that are mutually beneficial.

By developing core skills in these areas, teams can grow capability in compassionate empathy, improve communication skills, and thrive in the workplace.

Workshop FAQs

What is Empathy Training?

This training course is specifically designed for teams to develop fundamental skills in empathy. It aims to provide participants with the skills, tools, resources and confidence necessary to understand themselves and others. Our experienced facilitators have worked with many teams across Australia and draw from case studies and shared experiences to offer meaningful advice, practical strategies, and stories to learn from.

Why should my organisation offer Empathy Training?

Being part of Empathy Training can help teams to improve their ability to understand their own and other people’s emotions, see each other’s perspective, and collaborate. It can also help participants to break down limiting beliefs they have about themselves or others. The workshop experience is designed to help teams learn from each other and see how they might help each other grow different types of empathy skills.

Who can attend Empathy Training?

Empathy Training is designed for teams. The skills we focus on builds competency in self-awareness, perspective-taking and learning how to hold space for others. However, this training can be easily customised for emerging leaders, frontline leaders, or middle management as well. A team leader might want to be involved in the session with their team too, so they can help show the importance of empathy in healthy team relationships.

Is Empathy Training only available in person?

Empathy Training can be delivered in an in-person, virtual or hybrid format; depending on the organisation’s set-up. It is interactive and typically made up of strategies, discussions and a series of activities to support real world application. The training can be complemented with coaching sessions with a Thinka coach. Coaching plays an important role in helping participants challenge old behaviours, biases and judgements, to open them up to greater empathy. Organisations might also opt for a blended program that makes use of eLearning modules and other forms of media as part of an online course.

Workshop Case Study

Workshop Series, Urbis

 

1. What was the objective?

Urbis were looking to upskill their employees across two tiers (teams and leaders) in a variety of human skills. The workshops selected would need to be engaging, content-rich, and delivered as online training.

2. How did we do it?

We created a workshop program based on their needs, with four virtual workshops delivered to a team member audience, and three virtual workshops delivered to a leadership audience. These workshops were delivered for two hours and included a range of engaging activities for virtual audiences and the integration of an introductory QR code that allowed participants to register their attendance.

Additionally, the workshops were housed in Urbis’ own LMS to allow users to seamlessly access the meeting rooms and materials.

3. How was it integrated and what were the results?

The workshops were facilitated across a number of months with strong anecdotal evidence that the concepts and strategies delivered had a great impact on the development of teams and leaders across the business.

This workshop was really engaging and interactive. This session itself was a great way to practise empathy and listening and understanding to my peer's unique perspective. Super eye-opening and a great reminder too.

Promote Empathy participant, PHD

Workshop Outline

Delivery Options

In Person Workshop

Virtual Workshop

See Demo

Key Outcomes

1. Team members who can identify what empathy is and its link to values.

2. Team members who can appreciate the values and perspectives of others.

3. Team members who can sit in ‘emotional ambiguity’ and be okay with it.

4. Team members who know how to use an ‘empathy vocabulary’ effectively.

5. Team members who can cultivate healthy, long-term work relationships.

Target Audience

Teams
Leaders

Learning Approach

Experiential and application based learning

Workshops to pair me with:

Build Resilience

‘Digging in’ and finding a way forward when things get tough.

Build Teams’ Resilience

Regulate Self

Build better teams with emotionally intelligent employees.

Skills In Self Regulation

Our in-person workshops maximise opportunities for robust conversation, experiential activities and intensive group work. This is no ‘death by PowerPoint’ experience – our facilitators are skilled in presenting and leading immersive experiences that get the most out of people. Supported by multimedia, attractive takeaway pages and practical strategies for using back on the job – our in-person workshops build a formidable bridge between exploration and application. We have a 10 person minimum for an in person workshop.

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Our virtual workshops breathe fresh life into the online experience with their almost ‘radio show’ feel. Our expert facilitators use a combination of multimedia, questioning techniques and break out activities to target micro-skills – with a focus on application. Supported by an online platform hosting custom-built workshop materials, participants can be assured of a lively, dynamic session that has a distinct bias to action. We have a 6 person minimum for a virtual workshop.
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This audience includes team members who are developing skills to perform their role with greater capability. The skills are geared toward increasing personal and professional effectiveness and are transferable across different contexts – making them last as they move through their career development journey.
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This audience includes ‘middle management’ leaders who support team members in capability building. The skills are geared toward increasing leadership effectiveness and driving performance in team members in modern work contexts. These skills are flexible and built to grow with individuals as they evolve in their leadership journeys.
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Thinka believes that every learner needs to walk away being able to do something differently once they’ve engaged in a learning solution. The real power is in every individual applying their learning. Our behaviour-based methods, supported by the latest research, are key to making the steps for change relevant and realistic.

Thinka supports with methods like storytelling, experiential activities or rich questioning, but ultimately, we know the integration between solution and real world is the most crucial part of the learning experience. That is why we look for ways to ‘build a bridge’ between the solution we provide and what happens back out on the job.

Whether it’s an application template, a set of strategies, some tips or a ‘how to’ model – we work hard to provide every learner with not just information but the tools they need to make a real difference.

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