Building Empathy for Different Cultural Traditions During a Crisis

Building Empathy for Different Cultural Traditions During a Crisis

In last week’s blog, Dr. Kristen talked openly about the challenges facing people of faith during this pandemic. It’s important that we understand all the things people are grieving, especially the loss of community and togetherness that comes from practicing faith, especially with the passing of significant events like Passover, Easter, and the start of Ramadan.

Following from this idea, I wanted to write a few quick words about the importance of building empathy for other cultural traditions. Understanding who you work with, what cultural practices are important to them – including religious practices, food rituals, or even March Madness, is a necessary part of leadership. Culture is a big tent, it covers ethnic, religious, and racial diversities, but also geographical differences, sports, music, or even video games or pop culture.

It may not seem like a global health crisis is a good time to learn about the diverse cultural differences with your people, but learning about the people you work with and manage will help you be better able to support them through this crisis. If you understand that one of your staff is from a small rural farming community thousands of miles away, you can empathize with their concerns over seeing family and friends, but also understand their concerns about supporting our farmers and growers through the supply chain disruption.

We always encourage leaders to learn more about the people they manage, but there really is no time like the present. It will show your people that you have a tangible investment in their emotional wellbeing. It will show them that you recognize diversity is more than a tick-box exercise, and that you value the range of contributions they can make to the workplace culture.

Every office culture is made up of all the cultural backgrounds and traditions from all your staff. It can be easier to celebrate this diversity when your culture is on-site. With the increasing tendency of remote work during this crisis, it’s even more incumbent on leaders to showcase and support this diversity. Building empathy is a key skill of an emotionally intelligent person. It is vital that leaders show their people that they support and value their ‘whole’ person because that will build a resiliency with your team that will last well beyond the present crisis.

Join us for the next few weeks as we’ll be exploring more issues of diversity!

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