Guide: Care professionally and personally for your team

Understand emotional intelligence and compassion

Google tries to help managers understand how to be both empathetic and compassionate so they can demonstrate personal consideration for their teams. This first requires understanding the difference between empathy and compassion. Empathy is the ability to take the perspective of the circumstances or emotional state of another. Compassion takes it a step further: it’s when you not only feel empathy but also have a desire to address and alleviate the discomfort of the other.

Researchers have started documenting this distinction between empathy and compassion. Neuroscience has shown that too much empathy can cause stress and burnout for the empathizer while compassion instead produces feelings of concern, warmth, and motivation to help the other person.

Google offers these tips to managers to cultivate compassion:

  • Ask how you can help, and don’t assume you know what’s wanted.
  • Look for commonalities with your team members.
  • Encourage cooperation instead of competition in your team.
  • Cultivate a genuine curiosity about the individuals on your team.
  • Lead by example; treating others with compassion is contagious.
  • Be mindful of boundaries; avoid being an emotional sponge.

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