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What is Empathy Training?

Updated: Apr 23

Empathy training is ..... Learning how to LISTEN, UNDERSTAND, CONNECT and RESPOND - in that order.

If I asked you to write down your definition of empathy, what would you write?

You might jot down something about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes or feeling what someone else feels (which might make you feel uncomfortable). Empathy is one of those concepts that we think is simple until we tie ourselves in knots trying to define it. We think we know what it is but we kind of don’t at the same time.

Sometimes empathy feels like one of those hard-to-define words. You're not quite sure what it actually means or what should you be doing.

When we don't understand how to practice healthy empathy, we might shy away from it because #feelwhattheyfeel can seem too big, too scary and too personally challenging. However avoiding empathy can inadvertently make people feel devalued and dismissed and can be disastrous for our relationships and our business.

The goal of Empathy First empathy training is to help people to develop the skill of healthy empathy by overcoming their aversion to empathy thereby creating happier, healthier, more effective workplaces and communities - and save lives.

In Empathy Training we focus on developing healthy compassionate empathy - the ability to share and understand the feelings of another person - and respond appropriately.

In an empathy training keynote or workshop we follow our signature WISER Framework.

W- What is Healthy Empathy? We cover the 3 types of empathy, unconscious bias, mental health and judgement.

I - Introspection - We reflection on why empathy matters to us personally and professionally.

S - The importance of Self Empathy

E - Using your Ears to Listen with empathy

R - Responding with empathy to make others feel heard, valued, visible and safe.

(To hear more about empathy, check out my TEDx talk - Healthy Empathy can save lives - including yours)

Empathy training is designed to help you build fundamental self reflection and communication skills to help you strengthen your relationships, build greater staff wellbeing, customer engagement and brand loyalty and create a happier, healthier, more sustainable business.

In empathy training, you learn how to care, listen, understand, connect and respond in a way that is:

  • safe,

  • not scary,

  • accessible,

  • self-reflective,

  • memorable,

  • respectful of everyone's boundaries - including yours,

  • easy to apply,

  • not depleting or draining,

  • enjoyable,

  • AND makes people feel VALUED because you care for them in the way that THEY need.

Empathy Training is not exclusively for leaders. It is for anyone who interacts with humans: managers, supervisors, customer service staff, professionals in any field, entrepreneurs, freelancers, individuals.

The learning outcomes for Empathy Training are:

  • Improved communication skills: Empathy training can help your team become better listeners and communicators, allowing them to better understand and respond to the needs and feelings of colleagues and clients.

  • Increased emotional intelligence: Your team can develop a better understanding of their own emotions as well as the emotions of others, which can improve their overall emotional intelligence.

  • Greater self-awareness: Empathy training can help your team become more aware of their own unconscious biases and assumptions, allowing them to better understand how their own experiences and perspectives may influence their interactions with others.

  • Enhanced problem-solving abilities: Empathy training can help your team develop better problem-solving skills by encouraging them to consider multiple perspectives.

  • Improved relationships: By developing empathy, your team can improve their relationships with others by showing understanding, patience and support.

The Business Case for Empathy Training

Practicing the Art of Healthy Empathy to Attract, Retain and Thrive!!

Check out our previous clients and impact here.

Empathy is essential in the workplace. High levels of empathy have been linked with developing stronger levels of trust and connection within teams as well as improved organisational performance. In the service industry, empathy has been shown to reduce anti-social behaviour, discrimination and unethical behaviours. Customer perceptions of an organisation are also influenced by the empathy shown by frontline staff. 

Sales performance has also been found to be higher in empathetic individuals as customers feel heard and are more trusting of the salesperson and have higher levels of satisfaction. Negative interactions resulting in dissatisfaction by customers can result in poor brand reputation as people are more like to share negative experiences via word of mouth and social media. (Check out my podcast on Empathy in Sales HERE)

In addition, employees of leaders who lack empathy are likely to feel less involved, appreciated or rewarded and view the organisation in a negative way. One survey found that 82% of employees would consider leaving their job for a more empathetic employer and 72% of CEO claimed the state of empathy in their organisation needed to improve (Check out my podcast on Empathy in Leadership HERE)

Is Empathy Training right for your leaders and teams?

If you want a profitable, sustainable company and a happy and healthy workforce but don’t know how to achieve both, AND you have had enough of check lists and posters that tell people about mental health rather than experiencing how to empathise first-hand, then empathy training will benefit you and your teams.

(Think empathy training isn't for you? Chances are, it is. A recent report by businessolver found the difference between how empathetic you think you are and your empathy as perceived by others is over 30%!)

Keen to learn more about empathy training for your leaders and teams? Head to the Workshops and Speaking Page and submit a Training Enquiry or email Leanne at

Are you interested in Empathy Training for Yourself?

Empathy Fundamentals provides a comprehensive suite of resources to understand why empathy matters, what it means to you and how to communicate it more effectively. Work your way through 7 Chapters of engaging videos, self-reflective, practical activities, worksheets and podcasts to support your empathy journey.

Emotional Literacy Bootcamp - Emotional literacy is the ability to express our emotions and feelings in a healthy way. This course will help you to establish a stable relationship with your own emotions and the emotions of others.

5 Practical tips for writing emails that build connection is a FREE mini-course, which provides the tools you need to be a more effective written communicator - in less than an hour.  

Of course, I’m here to support and guide whatever aspects of empathy you’d like to explore, so If you’d like to discuss other ways of working together, I’d love to chat.

If you would like to learn more about empathy in your profession check out The Empathy Podcast and if I haven't interviewed anyone from your profession yet, please reach out.

I look forward to talking with you soon.


Hi! I'm Leanne Butterworth, TEDx Speaker, Empathy Educator, University Lecturer and Social Entrepreneur.

Empathy First is a Brisbane-based social enterprise offering Empathy workshops, online courses and individual Empathy coaching to help you build connection and strengthen your relationships for personal and professional success.

Contact me today and let's talk about how you can put Empathy First.

So what is Empathy Training (and what isn't it)? This 90 second video might help...

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