Law firm utilising empathy for successful business

Business that revolve around people, such as healthcare or law and even businesses the revolve around people with their staff, find that utilising empathy is a key, if not the number one skill to have for productivity, creativity, well-being and to actually stand a hope in developing the right outcomes for clients. Being practised at ‘seeing’ the real situation and skilled at recognising emotional data and the emotional experience is vital. It’s what I do day in day out, working with organisations and individuals to optimise their basic attributes of empathy and through emotional awareness, develop it, both individually and organisationally. This story shows how a law firm is embracing the same kind of perspective as my company does and how it is benefiting the organisation, staff and their clients.

The Importance of Empathy in Business

The importance of empathy in business goes beyond preserving your company’s image. The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) did a study that analyzed the relationship between empathy and job performance, evaluating over 6,700 managers from 38 countries.

The study gathered data from both subordinates and superiors. Employees ranked their managers according to how attuned the managers were to the staff’s personal situations. Did they:

  • realize when employees were overworked?
  • care about employees’ personal problems and losses?
  • show interest in employees’ “needs, hopes, and dreams”?

Then those in leadership over the managers rated them on their overall job performance.

There was no question from the study that strong empathy skills are connected to superior job performance. The CCL’s results showed that “empathic emotion as rated from the leader’s subordinates positively predicts job performance ratings from the leader’s boss.”

Yet no matter what industry you’re in, it is only too easy to fall into the trap of focusing exclusively on how your service benefits your company. Your business does need to stay afloat, but caring about the needs of your customers is a vital part of making that happen.

Literal and Figurative Customer Pain Points

The importance of empathy in business is a lesson that the people at J. Reyna Law Firm have taken to heart.

J. Reyna focuses exclusively on defending clients who have suffered severe personal injuries. Empathy is important in any business, but it’s crucial in an industry where the goal is to assist people who are suffering.

The firm has helped many people who have experienced trauma while working in construction or oilfields, as well as those who have been hurt in automotive accidents. Clients include people who have needed complex medical care for damage done to the brain or spinal cord.

People who experience a serious injury are not merely going through physical pain. They also have anxiety about how their injuries are going to affect the future. Will they be able to go back to work and when will they be able to do so? What will be the impact on their families? Will they have enough money to make it through until everything is resolved?

And perhaps most importantly of all, will justice be done?

Experience Provides a Unique Perspective

Juan Reyna has a special understanding of his clients because he himself has had an immediate family member who suffered a traumatic injury. That situation gave Reyna a singular point of view for approaching how he does his job as a personal injury lawyer.

Reyna says, “It’s sad but society is so accustomed to reading about accidents on the news, that we’re desensitized to hearing about accidents to a degree … However when it’s YOUR family in the hospital or when it’s YOUR son/daughter/wife/husband that was hurt or even killed by an irresponsible party — there are no words for the pain you feel.”

He now helps victims of personal injuries with a true understanding of the financial crisis that’s facing them. He understands the emotional pain they’re going through, as well as their desire to right the wrongs they’ve experienced.

Empathy-Driven Business Practices

But if you merely feel your customers’ pain points and do nothing about them, having empathy does no good. Compassion must shape your business practices.

With his clients’ needs in mind, Reyna works on a “contingency basis.” He doesn’t charge people for a consultation fee, and he doesn’t charge for his services unless he wins a case.

He and his team put in the time to determine what is required to help each client succeed. His focus is not on earning money by taking as many cases as possible, simply hoping that some will be successful. Rather, he makes sure to explore every opportunity that could help all of his clients win. He also gives his clientele close personal attention and makes sure to communicate well with them.

3 Lessons on Empathy

1. Make sure you’re offering to solve a problem that you truly understand. By doing so, you’ll gain enormous credibility with your customers and actually be able to help them better.

2. Don’t merely focus on how you can benefit your company. Yes, you need to keep your interests in mind. But remember that by helping your customers, you are also helping yourself.

3. Adapt the structure of your processes to the needs of your customers in a way that accommodates the importance of empathy in business. Can you adjust the way you accept payments so that you relieve some of your customers’ stress while still making a profit? Any way you can make the buying experience easier for them will also benefit you.

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Doing more than writing action plans! How GP receptionist staff interacted on this empathy workshop, and how it impacted on them

Interacting. Thinking outside the box. Engaging with emotions and actions. And doing more than writing action plans. That was just some of the work that the GP receptionists did during my time working with them, as they questioned how they made a real difference to themselves, colleagues and their patients and loved ones, that went way beyond procedure and protocol. Indeed how it helped them to remember to build that human connection with others. And that started in the room and how we all interacted as facilitator and medical practice staff……as human beings, with all that we individually carry around with us.

Throughout the day, staff explored, examined, questioned, felt, experienced, shared and discussed what emotional motivations can be behind complaints, what impact the amount of things going into the ‘funnel of life’ as I call it, has on us. And how you recognise, read and respond to emotional data to improve and validate the emotional experience that another is having. I watched, as I often do, trepidation and often resistance, turn into openness and transparency and even a few tears: Empathy and real felt emotion starting to emerge and understanding on how to manage it and, most importantly, humour and an acceptance of our great attributes and the ones that hinder us. Yep, we laugh at ourselves as we explore the best way to optimise our empathic abilities for the good of those we come into contact with and may need it. Often those going through complaints in the NHS.

Did they enjoy it??? Well the feedback speaks for itself :-)For more information about this training click on the link A Journey Through Complaints Using Empathy or see my website:

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Blog: In a group of 7 people what are the chances?

It was a bright and beautiful spring day and I was just at the beginning of facilitating a training day on empathy and emotional awareness at a residential home with 6 members of staff. As always, I was starting off the day with the ‘icebreaker’ / introductions. This is always one of my favourite parts of the day as, although many of those attending may start off cringing slightly and probably thinking… ‘oh dear God…do I have to do this?’ it inevitably provides such inspiring stories, that in turn starts cultivating that all-important human connection. Yet nothing this day had quite prepared me for the chance…or maybe not such a chance encounter, that I had.

With even the smallest narrative eliciting powerful empathic responses (even if we are not aware of them) and with a big part of my training being focused on how we all have Short-stories-trail-012our own stories and experiences that we carry around, the ice breaker consists of those attending, sharing a story that has had an impact on them. Now whilst this does not need to be emotional or deep, it can simply be a film that made them laugh, inevitably, people share personal experiences and on a majority of the cases they will be around some kind of loss. This particular mornings ice breaker was no exception. However when one lady, Wendy, started to speak, I knew, and don’t ask me how I knew exactly, but I did know, she was about to share something that would reveal a strong similarity to my life.

As her words came out about her family, firstly her 3 boys, (I had 3 boys): Her marriage and subsequent divorce but to a man she maintained a good relationship with and still provided a sense of family between them for their boys, (my ex husband and father of my boys, remain the best of friends), her voice hesitated and started to break a little. The emotion, care, support and empathy in the room from her colleagues became almost tangible, and this in itself was something I recognised, that I had seen in my friends, and it was at this point that I knew what was coming. I knew she was going to say that she had lost a teenage child….just as I had, not one of my boys but a dearly loved girl. But what impacted on me, was her saying it was in 2003, the same year I had experienced the very same thing. Her precious son had died in a car accident, suddenly and brutally taken away from her, and the rest of his family.

With part of my training being about openness and transparency and the impact the absence and presence of empathy has, the beginning of the training (following the icebreaker) is me sharing my story as an evaluation tool. As I started to do this, I became very mindful of the possible impact that my story, being in the same year, might have on Wendy, and whilst it did not feel appropriate at the time to draw too much attention to her, I was mindfully watching her as I spoke, knowing that it could be resonating with her so strongly. But it was as I finished and the group started to discuss things that Wendy and I, as part of the group, discussed the fact that 2003 had been a year representing dramatic child loss to us both. But it was when she had heard me say it was February that she said “me too”. She then said the 21st….. the very same day that the life support machine was turned off for the child I had nurtured for so many years, as I had held her hand, just as I held her hand for all those years. In this little group of only 7 people, including me, there we both were, looking at each other, knowing that on the very same day, we both, as mums, shared this life changing experience. In a group of only 7, what were the chances!

This connected us at a strong level and as we spoke, both as part of the group during the 3D X-Ray of head with gears in brainday, and privately, we shared more about our experience and we have been in contact since. As a facilitator of so many powerful sessions, I am privileged always to hear such amazing life stories and hear about things that mean something to others, it is one of the joys of the work that I do and reinforce time and time again, the way I work, creating environments of support and of emotional awareness of ourselves and others. But it is fair to say, that whilst I remember each story someone has shared, I will remember this one strongly for the rest of my life. Both Wendy and I have remained in contact, both feeling grateful to have met and both feeling that we were meant to meet.

I have known for some time now what my purpose in life was, to promote psychological well-being by raising awareness and educating on the immense number of things people have going in to their ‘funnel of life’ as I call it, and to be mindful of people’s ’emotional experiences’ and potential damage caused when you don’t. I am now living into my purpose with my work, watching it grow and evolve. But what will never fail to surprise me, is the immense connections formed with people and how similarities of experiences come to the forefront time and time again. Meeting Wendy and hearing about her son, is most definitely one of them.

CarolynFor more about my work and embedding empathy and emotional awareness into your organisation see me website:



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Seen the feedback? A Journey Through Complaints Using Empathy

It was such a great of people at my last ‘A Journey Through Complaints Using Empathy’ From Complaints Managers, PALS, Care Home Staff, Practice Managers and Litigation Serious Investigators, the group shared, listened, opened up their minds, challenged their thinking and discussed how reasoned empathy and emotional awareness enables best practice in the difficult and challenging work of NHS Complaints.

I never fail to be in awe of the people I come into contact with in my work. Facilitator I may be, but the great thing about working in this field, is that you have the privileged position of hearing peoples stories. With feedback like I got on this last session from the 21st March and my testimonials, I know I am connecting with those I work with. What better fulfilment could I hope for. Thank you to all those who have attending my training.

Next courses click on here or go to my training page

Key Learning Outcomes:

1.Understanding a journey through complaints – observing hidden cues, reading and understanding ’emotional data’

2. Identifying and understanding empathic and emotionally focused thinking

3. How lack of empathy in one-on-one encounters has the potential to cause psychological harm

4. Understanding what gets in the way and develop, manage and optimise reasoned empathy in complaints

5. How to help achieve meaningful resolutions and reach a ‘Safeguarded Personal Resolution’ ® and learn lessons

6. Understand how to be more self-reflective and use these skills for personal well being, best practice and CPD appraisal

News and blog: Empathy enables us to better handle stress

nursing-stress-jpgEmpathy enables us to better handle stress. A study by the University of British Columbia found that medical students who underwent empathy training were more compassionate towards their patients and were less stressed in emotionally intense encounters. Students who didn’t receive empathy training experienced what researchers call “second-hand stress;” they picked up others’ stress without understanding why.

CarolynMy thoughts:  Empathy training comes under a lot of resistance. Those attending, or being asked to attend, often feel things like…’I am already empathic thank you!’ ….’Emotions? Who wants to think about them, we have targets to meet’….’I get stressed enough dealing with others emotions, without knowing more’

However, empathy training, done well, is not about telling people they are not empathic already and need to learn. Or that they should only focus on emotions. Or that they need to take on others feelings. Rather empathy training that I facilitate, and many great trainers out there, focus on optimising already present empathic attributes. For example, many of us already know how to ride a bike and will never forget, but it img_5619_thumbtakes understanding and re-learning to get the most out of a 21 speed bike, rather than a 3 gear shopper, should you wish to master difficult climbs more easily and improve fitness…a topic covered in my previous blog – My 3 links between cycling and developing empathy 

Empathy must come hand in hand with emotional awareness.  Understanding our emotions and those of others is a key communication skill. It is a key to creating an optimum environment for ourselves and others to develop and negotiate keyour way through life. It is simply a key to help unlock sometimes emotional and thought processes that lock us in sometimes, but that find a way to be expressed nevertheless, but sometimes in a more destructive and damaging way.

Finally, what is interesting with the research mentioned above is that…’Students who didn’t receive empathy training experienced what researchers call “second-hand stress;” they picked up others’ stress people laughinwithout understanding why.‘ The thing to remember is that, as Daniel Golemen puts it….’emotions are contagious…we all have experienced it experimentally…you know, when we have been out with friends images (1)and we feel good, or when we have been served by a miserable assistant and we walk away feeling bad’. So we pick up on emotions and stresses, all day, every day. We collect them, absorb them and they influence us and how we feel. There is no escaping it. Communication is a felt process. Other people affect us and we affect them.

Empathy training, workshops, awareness or whatever you wish to call it, works on the basis of this happening and therefore having understanding of how to support others, download (3)and ourselves, gives us the insight to see more clearly, understanding to operate at our optimum self to reach our potential and help others reach theirs. Catching and absorbing others emotions and not understanding them, and not understanding ours….that is the cause of the stress. Measured empathy, where we use it as a skill and human attribute, along with many other skills and attributes at our disposal as human beings, is a powerful thing indeed to have in our corner.

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