Providers can cultivate and demonstrate empathy using a number of simple and evidence-based strategies. Here are a few examples:
- Recognize and respond to suffering. Signs of pain (physical or emotional) are key moments to tune in, gather information, and offer support.
- Use deep listening. Consider asking questions like, “What’s the most important thing we can do for you today?” Listening to the full answer can lead to a better understanding of what patients want and need.
- Embrace shared decision making. When possible, offer patients options, describe their risks and benefits, and ask their preferences.
- Participate in an empathy training. Training that involves experiential and reflective learning can be especially effective in boosting clinician empathy.
Sources: Barry & Edgman-Levitan, 2012; Brunero et al., 2010, Krasner et al., 2009, Sinclair et al., 2016, Weisz & Zaki, 2017.