insights on communication skills

Insights on Communication Skills and Relationship Building

4 Relationship Building Activities That Emphasize Empathy

Posted by Bridget Beirne on December 9, 2013

Working towards a better workplace through relationship building activities.

The word "empathy" seems to be popping up a lot lately. It could be a byproduct of the time of year (the holidays are a time when words like "empathy" "compassion" and "understanding" can make their best show...), but with more of an emphasis being put on emotional intelligence, empathy is everywhere. 

Relationship building activities 8The Huffington Post ran a great article recently about emotional intelligence, outlining 14 ways you can find out if you have a high EQ (You can find the article here.) The article included a link to a quiz out of UC Berkley on recognition of facial expressions and emotions. One of the fascinating things about the quiz was that it not only tested your recognition skills, but it also broke down how the muscles in the face work to construct certain responses. It was a step-by-step guide to becoming better at understanding where others are coming from simply by looking at them.

In the interest of continuing this empathetic movement, here are 4 relationship building activities you can do this week to exercise those empathy skills. 

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1. Take the UC Berkeley EI Quiz: See how adept you are at discovering the emotions of others, and then put your knowledge to work in real life by studying the faces of your coworkers and friends this week. Maybe you didn't realize your assistant was embarrassed about that last project he turned in. Once you can recognize it written all over his face, you can approach the situation with empathy as you guide him towards better results next time.


2. Ask "How do you feel about that?": When it comes to discerning how someone else feels, sometimes it's most helpful just to ask. Ask genuinely, with good eye contact and strong vocal production. Don't forget to employ your active listening skills to ensure that your colleague feels heard.

Challenge yourself to ask the question of 3 people this week.


3. Put yourself in their shoes: Once you've got an idea of how someone is feeling, take a moment alone to actually put yourself in their shoes. Ask yourself, "What would it really be like if I felt this emotion in this situation?" Allow the scenario to play in your head for a bit. This helps you step towards not only acknowledging someone else's emotional state, but finding a way to empathize with it.


4. Find the pain: Chances are you can identify the colleague who's had the toughest week. Seek them out and see how things could be made a better. Not only will you be helping a coworker in need, but you may find a way to solve a big issue facing multiple people- a win for office morale AND productivity!

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Topics: Building Relationships, Communication, Etiquette, Emotional Intelligence