Cultivating empathy for career success

20/05/2022 | 5 MINS

As a buzz word in both corporate leadership and pop cultural circles, empathy seems to be what everybody is talking about at the moment. What's more, the global pandemic has meant that many of us have been forced to reassess our values in the face of an uncertain future, and businesses are no different. In the face of changing workplaces and even more competitive recruitment practices, research shows that employers are seeking to employ graduates who have the right soft skills, specifically empathy and emotional intelligence.

How do you cultivate empathy? Isn't empathy a case of 'you either have it or you don't'?

According to Dr Brene Brown, social researcher and author, empathy is absolutely a skill set that can be cultivated. Brown defines empathy as "connecting with people so we know we’re not alone when we’re in struggle" and "a way to connect to the emotion another person is experiencing...without requiring that we have experienced the same situation they are going through." This animated video, created by RSA, is worth checking out for an overview on the subject:

Why is the ability to emotionally connect with others so important for graduates going into the workplace?

As it turns out, cultivating empathy is not simply about being a great colleague or leader, there is substantial research to suggest that companies that foster a culture of empathy actually perform better financially. For example, this Harvard Business Review found that empathetic companies outperform their more ‘bottom-line driven’ counterparts by 20%, With results like these, there is no surprise that hiring officers at leading companies are seeking graduates that can demonstrate their emotional intelligence.

So how do you cultivate empathy while you're studying?

If you're looking to start to work on your emotional intelligence while at university, research shows that enrolling in a degree in Humanities and Social Sciences is a fantastic approach. Plus, if you're looking to step up your employability game but have a focus in other areas, then you should consider taking a second major or even some elective units in a humanities related discipline. These courses focus on developing the critical thinking, emotional intelligence and problem solving skills that are crucial to a competitive advantage in the job market.

At UWA we offer so many fantastic ways to study Humanities and Social Sciences, all with the flexibility to fit within your existing study plan. Available in 2023, we have two new degree options for students seeking to challenge themselves to cultivate empathy as part of their university journey:

  • The Bachelor of Human Rights is a inter-disciplinary degree where you'll develop a deep understanding of the central issues in the study of human rights and social justice. You'll cultivate empathy, critical thinking skills and problem solving talents while learning about the complex social and political problems we face as a global community, from a range of perspectives.

If you're seeking more ways to cultivate empathy in your study plan, check out the courses and units on offer over at Humanities and Social Sciences and discover the ways you can prepare for your future at UWA

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