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The Empathetic Workplace

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The Empathetic Workplace

5 Steps to a Compassionate, Calm, and Confident Response to Trauma on the Job

HarperCollins Leadership,

15 min read
7 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Help your employees handle work and life difficulties with the LASER approach to bringing empathy to work.

Editorial Rating



  • Comprehensive
  • Applicable
  • Well Structured


Employees perform better in a supportive corporate environment, but disruptive events – illness, domestic abuse, crime, accidents – can displace people’s lives and upset your team dynamics. Attorney and organizational crisis counselor Katharine Manning explains that companies become stronger when leaders offer employees understanding and trust during difficult times. With active listening and understanding, you can help your team members gain control of their situation and open the door to solutions.


Traumatic events can derail a person’s focus, energy and productivity.

If you work with people, you’ll encounter those who’ve experienced trauma. Individually focused events, such as sexual harassment, domestic violence or bullying, or large-scale events, such as natural disasters or workplace or school shootings, disrupt the balance and order people need to be productive and creative.

Many leaders struggle with how to react and help those in need. They either try to fix the problem or fear getting involved in something they can’t control. However, allowing someone’s issues to fester creates an unhealthy work environment and can make your entire team suffer. As a leader, if you take a consistent, supportive approach with injured people, you can generate trust and create an open environment in which all employees feel supported.

In traumatic or stressful situations, the brain switches to defense by producing a rush of adrenaline, which shuts down the logical thinking people need for decision-making. As trauma victims experience distress, so do those who listen to their experiences. When counseling or supporting others...

About the Author

Katharine Manning is a counselor and legal adviser on victim issues. She served as a senior attorney advisor with the US Justice Department on victim responses to such crises as the Boston Marathon bombing.

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