In the previous series, we touched on how cultural curiosity and cultural sensitivity play a massive role in the workplace and enhance employees’ inclusivity. Moving forward on diverse cultural topics and understanding, cultural empathy is what comes afterward.
Empathy is the ability to walk in someone else’s shoes, understanding where they are coming from and what they are trying to say. Empathy leads us not only to experience the feelings of another but also to reflect on those feelings and compare them to our own.
Cultural empathy is simply having an appreciation and consideration of the differences and similarities of another culture in comparison to one’s own. People, leaders nonetheless, with cultural empathy are more tolerant of differences and accepting of those from other cultures.
It is the leader’s job to spread cultural awareness amongst team members and to increase diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Cultural empathy is an important cultural aspect that requires high emotional intelligence and in a cross-cultural work environment, it is required of leaders with high humility to be able to empathize with team members. It is their responsibility to empathize with diverse cultural employees in order to create a safe and healthy work environment.
So what is required of leaders in order to do so?
Learning about cultures and actively listening to employees’ voices is a way to show that you care for their well-being and you respect their culture.
Evolving with humility means you want to learn from their culture.
- What can I learn from people of different religions and different races?
- How can I be respectful of their culture?
- What can I do to make their working environment better?
Genuine Perspective Taking
Effective communication can be developed by consistently trying to put your feet in another’s shoes. If the roles were reversed, how would you manage? Thinking from a different perspective is the capability to engage with people from different cultures personally, rather than judging them.
Show the people around you, set an example, that you care, and acknowledge their distinguishing qualities and backgrounds. It takes time to build trust but making an effort to learn about people’s beliefs and traditions, is the first step to take to make it right.
When cultural empathy is established in the workplace, the impact can be seen through employee performance. It enables employees to improve productivity, reduce communication barriers, engage fully in the workplace environment and empower them to achieve exceptional performance.
Understanding and empathizing with employees can broaden one’s intellect and provide you with the communication tools you need when conducting business. By weaving empathy through every layer of your business, you’ll end up making decisions that boost your productivity, morale, and resilience.
As a businessman, I am grateful to have met people from different cultures and to learn from their experiences as it has widened my perspective on doing business cross-culturally. I was able to utilize my experience and apply a multicultural approach to brands and people that I work with, creating happy business relationships and forming a trusting bond for future business ventures.
About Igor Poza: Igor is a Global Brand and Team builder in Luxury Leather Goods and Cosmetics with 25+ years of comprehensive experience, both in headquarters and subsidiaries of Multi-billion Fortune 500, Family-owned businesses and private equity-owned startups. He has expertise in multi-channel retail and multicultural management. His cultural intelligence allows him to bring people together and transform businesses. He currently serves as the Chief Commercial Officer at Mansur Gavriel.