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Greater Empathy at Work


Empathy is an essential life skill for many reasons and it involves “feeling with” a person. Walking in their shoes essentially to understand their perspective.

In the working environment context empathy is the bridge between you and your colleagues and an absolutely essential soft skill for any professional; in particular those who in HSE positions who are responsibilities include understanding why people are working in a particular manner and implementing changes to those existing practices.

Empathy is the ability to put yourself in the shoes of another person and see, think, and feel from their perspective. Whether you agree with their perspective or not. Do you have empathy ? Of course I do I hear you cry !

But when is the last time you reflected on how to build on your existing empathic skills and used them to help to improve relationships at work ?

From my many years of working in health and safety and the multitude of HSE individuals that I have encountered, I feel that many professionals focus heavily on their technical skillset. Whilst of course a sound technical base is an essential factor, the reality is that a far more rounded skillset will serve the best. An outstanding health and safety professional and one who is viewed as such and projects an excellent image of both themselves and the industry is a person who applies to the job their collection of exemplary soft skills. Yes, in HSE you really do need it all !

All About People Skills

Health and safety is ALL about people skills. Think of every aspect of HSE responsibilities the interpersonal elements needed within; negotiation, empathy, communication, emotional intelligence, conflict management… I could go on !

As a starter, it is essential that your company and fellow colleagues, both within your own and in other departments, have trust in what you say. To build up and achieve the required level of trust a deep understanding of them firstly is required. Have you thought out your messaging or procedures from their perspective ? How will it practically work for them ? Have you walked in their shoes ? Understood their job, challenges and their work ? Really listened to their feedback ?

Good empathy and listening skills will both enable you to take on board their concerns with a deep level of understanding. This allows you to in turn communicate effectively and get people on board with your message and guidance. Successively, this will help to create a positive safety culture allowing employees, peers and colleagues to feel comfortable in reporting incidents to you and offering feedback on your initiatives.

The output of which on a personal level will be a deeper respect and the holding of your function and remit in higher esteem. And on a company wide level the more effective implementation of any HSE existing management systems or operational changes.

Empathy Improvement

  • Humans are, at heart, self-centred beings. We almost entirely focus on ourselves, and our environment and from our own perspective. The first step towards improving our empathy is to acknowledge this and then consciously turn our attention and focus outwards and on to other people. Once you have done this, then move onto examining your…
  • Listening skills ! Most people listen in order to then respond. To truly listen to someone, you must notice not only what they are saying, but how they are saying it, what their body language is telling you, what their facial expressions are communicating etc.
  • Clarify anything that they say which might be unclear to you to avoid any potential misunderstandings
  • When you look at a person, don’t just see their appearance, their job, or even their actions. See them as a human being and recognize that they have a past and experiences that bears on their perceptions now. Particularly in a working environment
  • When you are trying to see through another’s eyes, you have to put your views to one side temporarily so that you can better comprehend theirs. Don’t instantly dismiss opposing views as your usual knee jerk reaction


The Payoff ?

What will your improved empathy get you in return ?


  • Improved trust 
  • The removal of barriers
  • The reduction of stress as misunderstandings are ironed out and people better understand each other
  • Better cross departmental relationships
  • Better teamwork and enhancement of company culture
  • Heightened engagement in HSE messaging and programmes


Corporate OHS is a UAE based Health and Safety Consultancy whose HSE Consultants offer expert resources and superior performance to give you greater results.

We specialize in creating cost effective, user friendly solutions aligned to your business activities, operations and budget.

Our range of health and safety consultancy services includes;

  • Risk assessments
  • Hazard identification and control measure implementation
  • Gap Analysis and audits
  • HSE management system development, implementation and improvement including locally compliant systems such as Abu Dhabi OSHAD and/or accredited systems such as ISO 45001, ISO 14001, ISO 9001 and ISO 50001
  • HSE legal compliance reviews and assistance
  • Accident investigations
  • Business continuity and crisis management
  • Long term or project based HSE outsourcing
  • Flexible monthly support retainers giving access to HSE services without the burden of a permanent cost

To find out more about our services, please visit our website or send an email to

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