Warmth to foster healthy, productive and thriving workplaces.


Expressing warmth is a critical aspect of building trust and psychological safety in a team. And the responsibility for demonstrating warmth is shared by every team member. A warm and friendly demeanor can help co-workers feel more comfortable and valued, which can lead to higher levels of job satisfaction and productivity. Expressing warmth can take many forms, such as offering appreciation, showing empathy, and actively listening to and supporting colleagues.

Sharing appreciation is a wonderful way to demonstrate warmth. When employees feel appreciated, they are more likely to feel motivated and committed to their work.  They create stronger connections to co-workers and are more likely to find a sense of belonging within your organization. Try closing each team meeting with a round of appreciations.  If you have a little extra time, invite team members to share one thing they appreciate about every other team member.

Showing empathy is another way to express warmth. Empathy contributes greatly to relationships and lets others know that you genuinely want to understand what they are thinking and feeling and that you are present with them, not to fix or solve problems, but simply to be with them as they navigate an emotional situation.  Try reviewing this feelings and needs list to identify emotions that are indicators of underlying human needs.  Then use this worksheet to reflect on empathy misses and empathy guesses. An empathy miss is failing to understand or recognize the feelings and emotions of another person.  It can happen when one is not paying attention, lacks emotional intelligence, or is simply unaware of the other person’s perspective.  This can lead to misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and damage to relationships.

Which empathy misses are your “go to” responses? I tend to respond in a “Boots and Shovel” way when I hear someone expressing a strong emotion. I try to make the person feel better, likely due to my own discomfort with discomfort! This may not be a bad thing, but it is not empathy.

Try replacing your empathy miss with an empathy guess by asking

Are you feeling(fill in the emotion from the feelings and needs list)

Because you need… (fill in your guess at their underlying need)?

Notice what happens to the depth of connection when focusing on empathy rather than fixing.

Active listening is a third way to demonstrate warmth.  Be intentional about getting to know someone you work with well. Listen to their concerns and feedback, and respond in a supportive and empathetic manner. By creating an open and safe environment, team members will be more likely to share their ideas and take risks, which can lead to innovation and growth for the organization. Overall, expressing warmth is a powerful way to build strong relationships with colleagues and create a positive, more person-centered workplace culture.  Getting to know someone well, understanding what’s important to them and how they want to be supported can help you develop a strong, supportive working relationship.  Here’s an example of how supervisors can use the Good Day/Bad Day person-centered thinking skill in supervision

In the weeks ahead, share your appreciations, practice empathy, and listen intently to your co-workers to demonstrate your warmth and compassion. To build your skills in these areas and learn other practices, you may be interested in our Compassion@Work programs and Person-Centered Supervision training. Contact us at hello@helensandersonassociates.com to learn more.