It’s wise to empathize

Dear Dr. Jim,
How can I build an empathetic and cohesive hybrid team?
– Charmaine*


Hi Charmaine*,

At Vivo Team we recommend getting together (virtually) at least three times a week, for no more than 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of your team, and doing a check in. We call this a D.O.S.E.—a direct ongoing swift encounter.

What you do is a quick go-around where every says what they are working on or what their priority is for the day. Then you do another round where everyone says a stuck point—what’s getting in the way of getting stuff done today. Lastly, every goes around and says a “win” they recently had.

I would also encourage people who are used to working closely with each other in the office, that both of you go on Zoom, and you can actually be side-by-side if that’s something you need.

The other thing to do is to make sure that you have, a least every quarter, a 15 minute meeting with your manager. What you are going to talk about is:

  • What you have accomplished in the last thee months
  • What you still need to accomplish
  • One item that you would like to work on to improve your professional development

As well, sometimes on a Friday afternoon people have a virtual get together to just chat and talk about what’s going on. Once people get used to it you’ll feel quite connected, quite cohesive. It doesn’t have to be a barrier if you have discipline. Discipline is the key.
– Dr. Jim

*names have been changed

Ready, S.E.T., Empathize!

Although often used interchangeably, empathy and sympathy are fundamentally different. Empathy fuels connection. Sympathy drives disconnection.

Empathy–one of the five ingredients of emotional intelligence (EQ)–is relevant in diverse professions. It is the ability and willingness to sense others’ emotions, understand their perspectives, and take an active interest in their concerns.

The S.E.T. interaction (support, empathy, and task) can be very helpful in successfully demonstrating empathy. Support involves showing that you understand the person’s situation; empathy is acknowledging the person’s difficulty; and task requires moving to “let’s figure out how we can solve this”.

There are four (4) qualities of empathy:

  1. Perspective taking (the ability to take the perspective of another person)
  2. Staying out of judgement (not easy!)
  3. Recognizing emotion in other people
  4. Communicating

With this approach, you should be ready and S.E.T. to effectively empathize in the workplace. Give our 5 question Empathy Self-Assessment a go to find out where you are in your empathy development journey and what you can do to improve!