A Daily Routine to Strengthen Your Relationship Building Muscles

Building Empathy and Relationships in the Workplace

By Ron Rapatalo

What’s the number one reason people stop working out? Injury. Why? Because they don’t spend enough time warming up or cooling down — the healthy habits that get them to the end goal. 

As with any physical skill, building empathy requires both practice and purpose. It requires muscle memory, proper form, and correct sequencing. Most of all, it requires setting clear goals for the performance you want to have and the habits you need to create to get there. 

At Edgility, we prioritize building empathy because it has proven to be one of the best tools in creating unparalleled client and candidate experiences. Empathy makes us better people, and being better people is good for the work we do in helping equity-minded organizations find great leaders. We’re maniacal and systematic about talking to people. It’s part of the way we tick, and it’s what we value.

Looking to increase your empathy at work? 

Check out a sneak peek into my “training schedule.” Here’s what it looks like on an average day as an executive talent recruiter for the education and social justice organizations we serve here at Edgility

In a single day, I might spend…

  1. 3 hours connecting: I spend crazy amounts of time talking to people (or Zooming!) — to get to know them, to brainstorm ways to connect them to each other, to request and share information. I make connections for our clients and candidates — whether for our active engagements or outside of those — to be a resource and a guide whenever I can. Whether through LinkedIn messages, Facebook posts, or good old fashioned phone calls, I practice these interactions all day long.
  2. 1 hour researching: I review everything I can possibly learn about a candidate or an organization — and then I ask for more. Getting to really know people — what makes them unique, what work they excel at, what hobbies they enjoy — is how I build relationships. The more people are willing to share, and the more research I can do, the better story I can tell about a candidate and an organization. 
  3. 1 hour advising: After doing the work to build strong relationships, I can more easily provide direct and helpful feedback to our candidates. I follow up with people in a timely manner and with specific, actionable advice about how to show up well to the hiring process.
  4. 3 hours teaching: I teach others about building relationships because I know that the hiring function in many of the organizations we serve is disproportionately resource-starved, and everyone deserves to find the right path and place for their skills and teams. I do this by helping clients understand how to run equitable search processes — from building a hiring committee, to vetting candidates, to ultimately making the best decision for the organization.

All of that time spent listening, learning, advising, connecting, and teaching allows me to know people, understand people, and support people more successfully in and out of work. 

I have honed my empathy muscles throughout my career in recruiting, and I now have the honor of supporting my team members in doing the same. From building a school client relationship in Austin, to sourcing a qualified pool of diverse candidates in Atlanta, practice makes progress (not perfect — we’re all human, after all).

In the spirit of my daily “connecting” practice, I’d love to get to know you! Feel free to reach out to connect directly with me here