Elevate Empathy – Frequently Asked Questions

Empathy is the capacity to perceive what someone is experiencing, coupled with the ability to connect with their feeling state and respond with appropriate care.

Within the brain, empathy is a multi faceted array of capabilities, that relies on a complex circuit of brain functions. Cognitive empathy is the ability to comprehend how a person feels and what they might be thinking in response to a situation. Emotional empathy (also known as affective empathy) is the ability to tune into the feelings of another person. It’s the “tug on the heartstrings” we experience towards others, in difficulty or joy.   This kind of empathy prompts an action in us to try and support another person, this is known as empathic concern.

Empathy leads to true understanding and is fundamental to communication, motivation and belonging.  Empathy facilitates strong relationships and must underpin leadership.

Whilst empathy is generally considered a personal trait, it’s also critical in collective settings.  The natural human resource of empathy can be amplified when it is normalised and intentionally embedded in culture and practice.

Elevate Empathy’s programs are the “How To” for organisations.  Together, we’ll embed a simple skill based framework which will create a common language and protocols.  This application can transform individual empathy into collective empathy, creating an environment where everyone can thrive.

We help teams with inspiring values and good intentions craft a set of empathy led practices to enhance their culture and uplift performance.

It surprises many to know that empathy skills are easily learned and adopted.  By normalising the everyday practice of empathy as the core driver of behaviour you can simultaneously raise team engagement and enhance customer experience. 

Empathetic organisations cultivate group norms which allow everyone to thrive.  

The Elevate Empathy logo depicts a sunrise because:

– it is hopeful and optimistic

– it is a self replenishing natural resource, which is always there to draw on

– it says each day is a new opportunity to reach out to others to make their lives better

Our slogan, Powering Humane Workplaces reflects our belief that our workplaces can be a place where everyone can thrive if our common humanity is respected and celebrated.

Our mission is to normalise empathy as the gold standard of human behaviour, starting in workplaces, where we feel the biggest opportunities are.

The logo was designed by Olimpio on 99Designs.

We operate Australia wide with virtual sessions.   If you are in Greater Sydney or Wollongong you also have the option of face to face sessions. 

You’ll find all the details here on our CONTACT page.

If your team is responsible for direct care of clients, this workshop is incredibly beneficial, giving people a core set of guiding principles to rely on in their client interactions.

For people in indirect service roles, empathy based design can create a huge competitive advantage – when you base your services on legitimate needs your approach will resonate.

If your team delivers any of the following; insight, NPD, customer experience, customer policy, customer service planning or management or external communications -understanding how empathy really works must be a priority. 

Medium and large organisations (mostly service based) from both public and private sectors, led by forward thinking management with a desire to create a better and more humane workplace.  

They are committed to their inspiring values and want to convert these intentions into consistent team behaviours.  They are looking to embed empathy and positive behaviours into their systems and culture to build on their success and set up a platform for growth.

We only work with organisations who are committed to treating their people well.  Empathy cannot be used as a shield for bad behaviour or inhumane policy or deployed without authentic intent. 

We would only work with a challenging person if they are genuinely asking for assistance in this area and demonstrating a willingness to learn, grow and change. (We interview them first).  

After reviewing the neuroscience on who can change, we tend to recommend clients distance themselves from people with patterns of toxic behaviour, such as emotional outbursts, grievance mongering, dishonesty, undermining or bullying or power plays – even if they are talented. 

People with severely impaired empathy will be extremely costly to an organisation, both financially and emotionally.  They are generally poor leaders, poor learners and poor at emotional regulation. Their narcissistic self interest is at odds with collective empathy and thriving organisations.

We have identified 5 inter related skillsets as the basis for building an empathy capability in your team.  These, along with a module about understanding emotion, form the bedrock of our content.  

Our one day workshop move mind blowingly fast through a mixture of content; research findings, stories and situations, neuroscience, best practices, pitfalls, games, role play and practice and completing application tasks.

Without learning the principles and what stands in the way of their application, plus having the common language and experience, it would be very difficult for someone to fully appreciate what others have committed to learning. For this reason we recommend all clients begin their journey with the Workshops.

There is a dual aspect to our POLAR framework.  It can be used and applied within teams, between teams and for customer communication, to increase inclusion and satisfaction.  However it can also be focussed toward yourself, with the practice of self empathy. 

We include a popular (sometimes life altering) module of our workshop called Understanding Emotions. This includes self awareness, emotional literacy and emotional regulation, finishing with a customised prescription for well being, bringing self empathy to life.

In management speak, empathy is generally called a “soft” skill – also known as a “people” or “communication” skill. Some even consider it “feminine”. Viewing these abilities as “soft” diminishes their importance and implies they’re somehow less valuable than technical skills. 

In fact, reports show personal interactions requiring finesse and empathy are the biggest challenges most managers face.  Interestingly, being an empathetic manager is also the trait most predictive of career success and advancement.

Brene Brown refers to a study showing around 60% of a manager’s time is spent dealing with issues that require care, consideration and a delicate touch, such as:

  • supporting team members emotionally when personal circumstances are difficult  
  • conducting challenging conversations where accountability or change is required or where conflict is present
  • building a team culture based on trust and respect when external circumstances are changing and eroding certainty and stability.

These types of interactions are in fact the hardest part of a people manager’s role.  Even with experience, these interactions are challenging, especially when you’re under pressure or there are personality differences complicating the relationships. As Brown says, the reason these conversations create anxiety for people managers is because they want to get it right and support their people.

The conversations need to be had, they can’t be avoided. However, due to undertraining and little opportunity to practice with low stakes, most managers end up relying on their native empathy to address all kinds of challenging workplace issues, with many feeling unsupported and underprepared. These are learnable skills and incredibly valuable to people managers who can then reframe difficult interactions into rewarding ones.

There are also leaders who believe endorsing the so-called “touchy feely” skills will feminise the workplace or create a lack of “toughness” in a culture.  

At Elevate Empathy we believe workplace cultures that diminish the importance of caring traits serve no one, and are extremely damaging, particularly to men.   Human qualities are not gendered. What is gendered is permission to express certain traits. 

Many males are programmed to suppress emotion for fear of appearing weak. Perpetuating the myth that showing emotions is weak makes it hard for men to engage with emotion in a healthy way, and we see the results of this poor regulation all around us. Men are severely short changed by this conditioning. For both males and females, emotional management is a life skill that pays off in every single area of life, in self-awareness and in relationships – it is worth a bit of discomfort. Challenging conversations require a considered approach and practice. 

Empathy is the core skill required to manage such situations. If it’s the hardest part of your job, why refer to it as a “soft” skill?

It is the most popular. There are 2 formats; one full day (which is “fast and furious”) or two consecutive mornings, which allows more time for team activities.

We also have some clients choosing the 2 day workshop to be held as a residential course, adding significant extra time for immersive team tasks and bonding activities.

We set our prices for single groups* – Workshops start at $5,000 + gst for our Accelerated Empathy Training Workshop (one day) for a small group of 5 – 14 people.

Includes 2 workbooks – couriered to your workplace 7 days ahead of the event for internal distribution to your team – plus a separate 2 hour follow up session to embed some of the practices and complete tasks.


* there are discounts for multi group bookings.

The founder of Elevate Empathy, Cate Richards, is the former owner of Team Bonding – Australia’s premier provider of team building experiences.  Operating for 15 years, with a huge range of clients (including all of Australia’s top 50 companies), Team Bonding worked with 75,000 individuals and 3,000 teams to deliver rewarding, immersive team building.

Prior to starting Team Bonding in 2006, Cate worked in senior roles for major financial institutions as a customer champion and also worked as a brand strategist for Ogilvy. 

After selling Team Bonding in 2020, Cate spent 18 months researching all things empathy, studying across psychology and sociology, neurobiology, philosophy and anthropology.  Cate took care to synthesise theory with practicality, using her intimate knowledge of how teams work.  

Cate developed the P.O.L.A.R™  framework as a teaching device with huge flexibility in application across types of organisations and participant roles.

You can read more about Cate Richards here

We love to work with registered charities who often operate on the frontline of human need, with team members at high risk of burn out.

We offer 6 scholarships per year for our one day workshop (apply here) and a discount of 30% on our normal rates for other registered charities.

Yes, for second bookings from the same company we offer a 10% discount on our usual rates.  For third and all subsequent bookings we offer a 15% discount on our usual rates.