Merge's Blog

Empathy is no longer the most important workplace skill. It isn’t enough!

My latest column for The Globe and Mail went online last Friday.  Empathy is no longer the most important workplace skill. It isn’t enough got a lot more attention than I thought it would.  I started this column by writing:

“For years, I believed that one of the most important skills for a leader, or any worker really, was empathy. But that is no longer true. Now, I believe it to be compassion.”

I wasn’t trying to be controversial, but the subject struck a chord in a few people, enough that I got a flurry of emails.  I know that the word “compassion” often suggests weakness or vulnerability; my point was that it shouldn’t.  But it did anyway!  In this article, I explain the difference between sympathy, empathy and compassion; why compassion matters in today’s workplace; and how you can be compassionate without being weak or vulnerable.


The reality is that our workplaces have changed, and the skills that made you an effective leader in the past will not give you continued success.  Understanding the difference between sympathy, empathy and compassion, and taking concrete steps to create a more compassionate workplace will lead to greater positivity and productivity in your teams.

If you’re a paid online subscriber to The Globe, you can also access this article directly at their site via this link:

I’m curious to know your reaction to this column?  Do you think I’m completely out of line and opening the door for employees to take advantage (as some leaders who sent me emails felt)?  I really want to know.  Add your comment below.


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