Be a fish out of the water as study finds workplaces still lack empathy

Customer or employees care conceptSoft skills are classed as the most needed in skill in today’s economy, yet, these are the skills that are the hardest to find.  Empathetic management, good communication, respectfulness to employees and from colleague to colleague is one of the top skills a manager and culture of an organisation can have and promote.

Empathy is something that people think they understand and practice but studies show that the knowledge, understanding and skills gap is significant Demonstrating empathy however is crucial for business health – Businessolver finds that. ‘ empathy can foster retention and drive productivity: 77 percent of employees say they’d work longer hours for an empathetic employer, and 60 percent say they would take a lower salary from an empathetic employer.’

“Empathy is essential to leading and managing others, but to reap its full benefits, leaders must understand what it is, how it functions, and how to effectively bring it to the workplace,” said Dr. Adam Waytz, professor of management and organizations at the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management. “Workplace empathy means understanding employees’ feelings and needs to drive a more engaged workforce and a better workplace experience. We can only close the gap and achieve greater workplace empathy if organizations commit to an empathy evolution.”

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg it by extending her company’s bereavement leave after experiencing a sudden personal loss of her own. This was something that Sheryl Sandburg used personal experience to enhance the caring and empathic nature of the company.  Paying attention to the emotional needs of staff is a crucial part of empathy but is not always easy. Sheryl Sandberg had experienced something that she used to promote a more empathic culture. However you do not need to have experiened the same thing as another to tap into your empathy. But you do need to engage emoationally. That is the basis behind tha approach to developing empathy that C&C Empathy Training deliversm and with outstanding results.

CarolynThe Director Carolyn Cleveland has walked the walk with discovering empathy and has seen the best and worst examples of it when her child died as well as already having studied it academically in counselling training. She skillfully takes individuals and groups on a journey of empathy, so that the skills learnt are embedded in their experience of the training and can therefore continue to develop.

As Carolyn states, “even as ‘the expert’ on empathy, I am learning, developing and making mistakes all the time, even in my own business and personal life. Empathy is images (4)intrinsically connected to self awareness and emotional development. We are human beings and not perfect. Organisations and individuals should be looking to cultivate an empathic culture, rather than quick fixes. It is not always a comfortable route to take, but statistics show over and over again, the sooner organisations embrace a culture of empathy, the more loyal, happier and creative the staff, the better the retention and the better productivity. Sometimes you need to be a fish out of water to fly.” 

Although falling short, but with the UK Prime Minister stating in her Manifesto that parents suffering the loss of a child should have statutory time off, businesses in the UK are having clear directives from government over empathic workplaces. The time for upskilling leaders, managers and workforces is now being seen as a very valuable investment of time and money.

Relevant training:

A Journey in Leadership Using Empathy

using empathy in leadership

Key Learning Outcomes:

Who are we? Understanding & developing the human connection

How to identify and understand emotionally focused thinking and practice and staff focused leadership

How lack of empathy in one-on-one encounters has the potential to cause psychological harm, how to respond to others using empathy

How to cultivate empathy and inclusive leadership- communicate at a deeper level

How to use your new skills to enhance the human connection and handle difficult conversations

How to manage empathy to prevent burn out and improve retention

Understand reflexive leadership and how to use these skills for staff well- being and productivity



Key to Empathy May Be in Knowing Yourself

“Empathy is only possible when one has achieved self-awareness—as one cannot understand others until they understand themselves.” Daniel Goleman

A big part of the empathy training, mentoring and consultancy work that I do is based on this. It is something I have invested in over the years, studied and actioned. It is now something that I support others to do, as they optimise their empathic abilities.

This report from Psyche Central highlights a study done on 161 adult participants aged 20 to 55 on this very thing and how knowing ourselves helps our perspective taking and understanding of others…key aspects of empathy.

The report states that:

When we are taught to identify and understand our own inner parts, or sub-personalities — such as the “inner manager” or the “inner child”  we become far more understanding of the mental states of others, essentially increasing our levels of social intelligence and empathy.

For three months, 161 adult participants aged 20 to 55 were split into two groups and taught how to develop their perspective-taking skills through a variety of methods. The training was based on the Internal Family Systems model which views the self as being composed of different complex inner parts, each with its own defining set of behaviours, thoughts and emotions.

In this approach, each part may be identified as having a healthy and productive role or an extreme role, but each is still validated and recognised as important.

During the study, participants were taught to identify and label their own sub-personalities, as well as those of others. The findings show that after training, the participants could easily identify prototypical inner parts such as “the inner manager” or “the inner child” in their own personalities.

The degree to which participants improved their understanding of themselves, as reflected in the number of different inner parts they could identify, directly correlated with how well they improved in terms of their own flexibility and ability to accurately infer and understand the mental state of others.

In fact, the more negative inner parts they could identify in themselves, the better their awareness and understanding of other people’s negative frames of mind.

“There is a close link between getting better in understanding oneself and improvement in social intelligence,” said Dr. Anne Böckler of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Science. Böckler conducted the study with Julius Maximilians University Würzburg in Germany.

The realization that people who learn to better identify negative aspects of themselves are better able to understand others has interesting implications for our ever-changing world, according to the researchers.

“This insight could prove important in an increasingly complex and interconnected world where taking the view of others, especially those from different cultures or with different religious backgrounds, becomes ever more difficult — and ever more necessary,” Böckler said.

The study suggests that taking the time to identify and understand our own inner mental states holds promise in therapeutic as well as non-clinical settings, all of which aim to foster psychological health and social intelligence.

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Related courses: 
11th July Milton Keynes
Description This one-day course for complaints teams improves how they approach emotive and difficult conversations with patients, families and how to gain ‘emotional data’. The course is ideal for those working with families raising an initial concern or following the official complaints procedure and/or investigation. Delegates will develop understanding of the complex emotions in complaints and biases that can create barriers to reaching meaningful resolutions and learning lessons. Delegates will develop confidence and skills to work with bereaved families and to positively improve how patients and loved ones experience their organisations complaints system.
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Founder of C&C Empathy Training Carolyn Cleveland gets nominated for TED talk by a customer

The Founder of C&C Empathy Training Carolyn Cleveland has been nominated to do a TED talk by a customer Keir Gill, Senior Manager, Compliance and Improvement, Arts Council England,  who originally saw Carolyn present at a Public Sector Conference in London last September, talking about the role of empathy in complaints, difficult conversations and well-being. He was so taken aback by the emotive and insightful way that Carolyn engaged the audience, that he booked her for a full days training at the Arts Council where he worked and the involved the Big Lottery Fund, Sports Council and Heritage Fund.

Keir had already been kind enough to provide a testimonial for Carolyn about her presentation and subsequent training….

Throughout a twenty year career in handling difficult conversations I have never felt as inspired as I did hearing Carolyn speak. Her ability to create an environment where we can fully understand the power of empathy and its effects on both us and our service users is both exceptional and important in equal measure. The perspective, understanding and skills I have gained from this training will be used to enhance our organisational approach to handling difficult conversations and improve how we respond to the emotional needs of our users. Carolyn’s training combines significant professional and academic expertise with a truly delightful personality set against the backdrop of heart breaking tragedy. I feel confident in saying that we can all learn something deeply important from her both professionally and personally. I am incredibly grateful to have crossed her path.

Keir has decided not to stop there though and has just nominated Carolyn for TED talks.

Says Carolyn….”I could not feel more honoured. My presentations and training comes from one of the most challenging and difficult times of my life and to be nominated by Keir is a huge honour”.

To find out more about Carolyn’s training and speaking roles see C&C Empathy Training website



Do you care about managing patient complaints well?

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Moving beyond writing action plans to actually make change happens, means challenging our existing ideas and fully understanding the perspective of the person bringing a concern or complaint and recognising and understanding the ’emotional data’ as I call it.

A Journey Through Complaints Using Empathy will give you valuable insight and a supportive environment to examine some of the complexities surround concerns, complaints and serious incidents.

Interested? Email me on

Key learning outcomes:

  • Understanding a journey through complaints – observing hidden cues, reading and understanding ’emotional data’
  • Identifying and understanding empathic and emotionally focused thinking
  • How lack of empathy in one-on-one encounters has the potential to cause psychological harm
  • Understanding what gets in the way and develop, manage and optimise reasoned empathy in complaints
  • How to help achieve meaningful resolutions and reach a ‘Safeguarded Personal Resolution’ ® and learn lessons
  • Understand how to be more self-reflective and use these skills for personal well being, best practice and CPD appraisal

Feedback from last weeks course (12th May) Email for to secure your place

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Airlines forces Mum off flight…but through a great example of empathy

A news article shared by shareably provides a great example of the positive impact of empathy……..

When Peggy Uhle boarded Southwest Airline’s flight from Chicago to Columbus, she turned off her phone just like everybody else and waited patiently for the plane to taxi down the runway and take off. It was just an ordinary flight on an ordinary day – or so she thought.

Before the plane could even make it halfway down the runway, it stopped and turned back towards the gate. When they pulled up, a flight attendant approached Peggy and asked her to exit the plane. Peggy just thought that she had accidentally boarded the wrong flight. Turns out, that was far from the case……………………

I am sharing this story as firstly it is a story that makes you feel proud of the human race, but it is also an excellent example of the power of empathy (my passion and my work), both cognitive empathy (imagining what another might be feeling – the recognition part) and the affective empathy (allowing yourself to feel it and respond – the action part). This story shows so well how we, as human beings, when utilising our natural attribute of empathy in a conscious way, can step into another’s’ world momentarily, can feel with them a little and then can proactively find ways to respond to that. Sometimes this is very subtle and can be simply listening. Other times, like this story demonstrates, is in actions that make another person’s circumstances so much easier….or at the very least, making sure it is NOT made harder. 

Story continued……………..

Once Peggy was back in the terminal, a gate agent approached her and gave her some devastating news. Peggy’s 24-year-old son, who lived in Denver, was just in an accident that left him with a serious head injury and in a coma. Peggy didn’t know what to do. Fortunately, Southwest had already taken care of all the details, though.

Before Peggy could even process the news, the gate agent told her that the airline had reticketed her on the next direct flight to Denver, for free. They had even taken care of all the minor details, such as rerouting her luggage and ensuring it was delivered to the proper location.

“They offered a private waiting area, rerouted my luggage, allowed me to board first, and packed a lunch for when I got off the plane in Denver. My luggage was delivered to where I was staying, and I even received a call from Southwest asking how my son was doing,” Uhle told an online forum.

Most airlines don’t stop and reroute a plane for anything less than an emergency onboard, but Southwest Airlines has shown its customers that it’s not just any airline. Going above and beyond the call of duty, the airline and its staff deserve a huge shout out!

So here is my ‘SHOUT OUT’ for the airline and it’s staff for all being proactive, thinking empathically and having a can do attitude that puts the person before procedures which so often get in the way of empathy and us acting in the best interest of our fellow human being. I wish Peggy’s son a full and speedy recovery.

C&C Empathy Training ’empowering’ and changing culture.

C&C Empathy Training Ltd, held one of their thought-provoking training days A Journey Through Complaints Using Empathy, on Friday 12th May, at Stevenage. The course was attended by NHS Provider Complaints Managers/Staff, Branch Managers for a Private Nursing Provider, CCG Complaints Manager/Staff, NHS Resolve NHSR (previously NHS Litigation), and a CaMHS practitioner.

CarolynAs company founder as well as facilitator of these sessions, the feedback and impact that the training has on individuals is very significant. As companies, both small and large, strive for a healthy happy workforce and retention, good customer experience and develop a productive and ethical culture, training that challenges thinking through authentic human connection and empathically focused thinking is vital.

To read words from attendees who work in the demanding and often thankless job like complaints and customer experience, such as…….‘Very impressed and I feel empowered’, (NHS Complaints Officer)  ‘Many areas to reflect on and discuss with colleagues, friends and myself!’ (NHS Resolve)  and ‘I will try to get Virgin Care to replace the term complainant.’ (Virgin Care Customer Experience Officer), ‘Amazing! – Very relevant on complaints and people’s attitudes’ and ‘I loved it’ (Private nurse provider branch managers), is very satisfying.

My unique approach to training and stepping into the sometimes uncomfortable world of emotions, by ‘going on a journey’, is not only informing work forces, but is AAEAAQAAAAAAAAO9AAAAJDgyMjViYzFmLTlhN2EtNDIwYS04MTUyLWVkMmZhYzUzM2Q5MQempowering staff in terms of well-being and in terms of customer experience. Also though, in successfully encouraging individuals to challenge how they and their organisation views complaints, biases and how they label, is a proud moment for me as a business owner and training provider…and indeed human being, who as believed in this for as long as she can remember, as it recognises the tiny steps toward positive culture change my company is making.

Thank you to ALL those who attended a great day and that opened their minds to grow intellectually and emotionally, in turn teaching me things to and helping develop C&C Empathy Training. Oh and for the jolly good laugh we all had too!

Have a look for yourself at the feedback below.

To book a training session with me or to discuss your requirements email:    Follow me on twitter @carolynccet

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You must pay attention to empathy – 2017 Dell EMC World conference

At a breakout session during the 2017 Dell EMC World conference on Tuesday, company leaders outlined key takeaways for businesses pursuing DevOps. Kaiser and Roche offered seven key lessons that businesses must learn when engaging with DeVops:

DevOps was explained as:

What is DevOps?

For starters, a business must define DevOps as a concept, and how they will utilize its principles in their organization. Roche said that it is important to keep clear communication and get everyone on the same wavelength so the team can be unified in its mission.

Instead of measuring vanity statistics like the number of lines of code or number of commits, Roche said DevOps practitioners should focus on users and measure the effect that DevOps has on building the team up. “At its heart, DevOps is a cultural movement,”

Why DevOps?

A key lesson for organisations to learn is to be able to understand and explain why they want to pursue DevOps, because it won’t be an easy ride. “DevOps is anything but comfortable,” Kaiser said.

Implementing change will require a cultural shift in that everyone becomes responsible for quality, Kaiser said. DevOps teams must “share context” and have empathy for one another, regardless of what aspect of the business they represent.

Kaiser stated that ‘The team is the glue behind your DevOps deployment. Because of this, team leaders must focus on empathy, feedback, and feelings. Empathy helps team members understand where their coworkers are coming from. Feedback helps identify problems and celebrate success. Focusing on feelings helps to build trust and dependability within the team.’

As someone who has lived and breathed the effects of empathy, both in optimising my own empathic abilities and receiving others strong levels of empathic communication. But, also in analysing what gets in the way of my empathic abilities and the harm that can be done by not receiving empathic communication, it is little wonder it is now the focus of my work.

Kaiser is correct in his analysis when discussing DevOps in saying it is ‘anything but comfortable’. Understanding and developing empathy in itself, in often anything but comfortable, as it takes uncovering and being aware of our biases, how we label and what we carry around emotionally – and oh yes we may all cover it really well and carry on like we are always fine, but we are all carrying around emotional stresses and challenges.

Just the fact that the biggest killer in the of UK middle-aged men is suicide and that we are having to face up to the mental health crisis we now have in this country, creating empathy in the workplace, from leader and manager to staff, staff to leader and manager and colleague to colleague, is an investment that repays over and over again, The return on investment can been seen and felt (yes felt being one of the most important words)  in people’s psychological well-being, physical well-being, time off work and sickness, how creative and insightful they are, how valued they feel, how supported and empowered to support others they become.  This is before you even think of the value and return in investment to the customer service aspect.

screenshot-11I see this over and over again when I do training and discuss empathy, biases and emotional awareness and people’s barriers start to come down.  Developing empathy is not a comfortable route and that’s why it is pushed aside, but when the biggest business researchers across the world rate it as the number one competency of excellent leadership, it’s time to have its presence felt!

For further information on training your team in empathy please email me on or visit my website and see some of my testimonials:   Follow me on twitter @carolynccet

using empathy in leadership

A Journey in Leadership Using Empathy

Description: This one-day course examines, in a unique, thought-provoking and human way, the important role empathy and emotional awareness plays in inclusive leadership, staff well-being and productivity, and what erodes it. Delegates will develop an understanding of the psychology of emotionally focused thinking and outcomes and learn essential skills to understand and implement effective relationship focused work, underpinned with empathy and emotional development.

A Journey Through Communication Using Empathy

A Journey Through Communication Using Empathy

Description: A one-day course to develop a deeper level of communication to approach difficult and sensitive conversations with other people with empathy. Delegates will develop psychological understanding and essential skills to best communicate with compassion, self-awareness and confidence.

CPD reflection certificate of attendance for all courses.

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