Why Workplace Empathy Won’t Keep Employees Happy

“Empathy is one of the values we’ve had from our founding.” That’s what Chelsea MacDonald, SVP of people and operations at Ada, a tech startup that builds customer-service platforms, told me when we first got on the phone for this story in June. When the company was in its early stages, with about 50 people, empathy was “a bit more ad hoc,” because you could bump into colleagues at lunch. But that was pre-pandemic, and before a hiring surge.

Now, MacDonald says, empathy is built on communication (as many as five times a week, she communicates in some way to the entire company about empathy), through tools (specifically, one that tracks whom people communicate with most and who gets left out), through intimacy (cultivated through special-interest groups) and through transparency (senior leaders share notes after every meeting). At various points in our discussion, MacDonald describes empathy as “more than just, ‘Hey, care about other people’” and “making space for other people to make mistakes.”

She was one of a dozen executives whose communications directors reached out when I tweeted about the office trend of “empathy.” Adriana Bokel Herde, the chief people officer at the software company Pegasystems, told me about the three-hour virtual empathy-training session the company had created for managers—and how nearly 90% had joined voluntarily.

Kieran Snyder, the CEO of Textio, a predictive-writing company, said the biggest surprise about empathy in the workplace is that it and accountability are “flip sides of the same coin.” “We had an engineer give some feedback that was really striking,” she told me. “She said that the most empathetic thing her manager could do for her was be really clear about expectations. Let me be an adult and handle my deliverables so that I know what to do.”

All of these leaders see empathy as a path forward after 17 months of societal and professional tumult. And employees do feel that it’s missing from the workplace: according to the 2021 State of Workplace Empathy Study, administered by software company Businessolver, only 1 in 4 employees believed empathy in their organizations was “sufficient.”

Companies know they must start thinking seriously about addressing their empathy deficit or risk losing workers to companies that are. Still, I’ve also heard from workers who think it’s all nonsense: the latest in a long string of corporate attempts to distract from toxic or exploitative company culture, yet another scenario in which employers implore workers to be honest and vulnerable about their needs, then implicitly or explicitly punish them for it.

If you’ve read all this and are still confused about what workplace empathy actually is, you’re not alone. Outside the office, developing empathy means trying to understand and share the feelings or experiences of someone else. Empathy is different from sympathy, which is more one-directional: you feel sad for what someone else is going through, but you have little understanding of what it feels like. Because empathy is predicated on experience, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to cultivate. At best, it’s expanded sympathy; at worst, it’s trying to force connections between wildly different lived experiences (see especially: white people attempting to empathize with the experience of systemic racism).

Applied in a corporate setting, the very idea of empathy begins to fall apart. Is it bringing their whole selves, to use an HR buzzword, to work? Is it cultivating niceness? Is it making space for sympathy and allowing people to air grievances, or is it leadership modeling vulnerability? Over the course of reporting this story, I talked to more than a dozen people from the C-suites of midsize and large companies that had decided to make empathy central to their corporate messaging or strategy.

Some plans were more fleshed out and self-interrogating. Some thought an empathy training available to three time zones was enough. Others understood empathy as small gestures, like looking at a co-worker’s calendar, seeing they’ve been in meetings all day, and giving them a 10-minute pause to get water before you meet with them.

But where did this current push for workplace empathy begin? According to Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and chief executive officer of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and author of the upcoming book Reset: A Leader’s Guide to Work in an Age of Upheaval, it sort of started with, well, him. In the fall of 2020, he’d been hearing a similar refrain from businesses: everyone was tired. Tired of the pandemic; of stalled diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) efforts; of their bosses and their employees.

When he looked at the 2020 State of Workplace Empathy Study, then in its fourth year, the reasons for that exhaustion became clear. People were tired because they were working all the time, and trying to sort out caregiving responsibilities, and dealing with oscillating threat levels from COVID-19. But they were also tired, he believed, because there was a generalized empathy deficit.

Read More: Hourly Workers Are Demanding Better Pay and Benefits—and Getting Them

That “empathy deficit” became the cornerstone of Taylor’s State of Society address in November 2020. “Much of the resurgence of DE&I programming in the wake of the George Floyd killing was supposed to encourage open conversation and mutual understanding,” he said. “But it often bypassed empathy. Well-meaning programs devolve into grievance sessions … rather than listening and trying to relate.”

SHRM is an incredibly influential organization, with more than 300,000 members in 165 countries. So while it’s not as if empathy efforts were nonexistent before, Taylor’s speech encouraged them. Even if members weren’t there to listen to his words, his message—and the data from the study—began to filter into HR departments, leaving a trail of optional learning modules and Zoom trainings in its wake.

The backlash started shortly thereafter. Taylor acknowledges as much. “I see these companies jumping on it,” he told me. “But it’s not an initiative. It’s not a buzzword. It’s a cultural principle. If you make this promise, as a company, if you put this word out there, your employees are going to hold you to it.” He adds that empathy should go both ways: “There’s an expectation that employees can mess up; employers should be able to mess up too.”

In the case of employees, many are frustrated by perceived hypocrisy. (All employees who spoke critically about their employers for this story requested anonymity out of concern for their jobs.) One woman told me her company, Viacom, has been doing a lot of messaging about empathy, particularly when it comes to mental health. At the same time, it has switched to a health plan that’s more restrictive when it comes to accessing mental-health professionals and care.

(Viacom attributes the change to a shift in policy on the part of their insurance provider and says it has worked to remedy it.) Other employees report repeated invocations of empathy from upper management in staff meetings, but little training on how to implement it with those they supervise. As one female employee at a performing-arts nonprofit told me, “In a one-on-one meeting with my boss where I was openly struggling and tried to discuss it, I was told that mental health is important, but improving my job performance was more important.”

A customer-service representative for a fintech company said empathy had been centered as a “core value” of the organization: something they were meant to practice with one another but also with customers. To quantify worker empathy, the company sends out customer-satisfaction surveys (CSATs) after each interaction. It found that dips in CSAT scores, which were measured by an automated system, reliably happened when a customer had a long hold time, which had little to do with whether the representative modeled empathy. Yet employees were still promoted based on these scores.

The central tension emerges again and again: “There’s an irony, because there’s the equity that you want to present to employees—while also giving special consideration and solutions for specific situations,” Joyce Kim, the chief marketing officer of Genesys, which provides customer service and call-center tech for businesses, told me. “Those two are often incongruent.”

Put another way, it’s hard, at least from a leadership perspective, to cultivate equal treatment for everyone while also making exceptions for everyone. If you allow an employee to work different hours, have different expectations of accessibility or have more leeway because of an illness, how is that fair to those who don’t need those things? How, in other words, do you accommodate difference while still maximizing profits?

What companies are trying to do, at heart, is train employees to treat one another not like productivity robots, but like people: people with kids, people with responsibilities, people shouldering the weight of systemic discrimination. But that runs counter to the main goal of most companies, which is to create and distribute a product—whether that’s a service, an object or a design—as efficiently as possible. They might dress up that goal in less capitalistic language, but the end point remains the same: profits, the more the better, with as little friction as possible.

Within this framework, the frictionless employee is the ideal employee. But a lack of friction is a privilege. It means looking and acting and behaving like people in power, which, at least in American society, means being white, male and cisgender; with few or no caregiving responsibilities; no physical or mental disabilities; no strong accent or awkward social tics or physical reminders, like “bad teeth,” of growing up poor; and no needs for accommodations—religious, dietary or otherwise. For decades, offices were filled with people who fit this bill, or who were able to hide or groom away the parts of themselves that did not.

The women and people of color who were admitted into these spaces did so with an unspoken caveat that they would make themselves amenable to the status quo. They didn’t bring their “whole selves” to work. Not even close. They brought only the parts that would blend in with the rest of the workforce. If you were sexually harassed, you didn’t make a fuss about it. If someone used a racial slur, same deal. If there were Christmas celebrations that made the one Jewish employee feel weird, that person was expected not to make waves. Bad behavior wasn’t friction, per se. But a worker whose identity already created a form of friction complaining about it? That sure was.

Historians of labor have pointed out that this posture was particularly prevalent in office settings, where salaried workers were often saturated in narratives of a great, unified purpose. If employees took care of the company, and flattened themselves into as close to the image of the ideal worker as possible, the company would take care of them, in compensation and eventual pension. Which is one of many reasons that white collar office workers have been resistant to unionization efforts, which felt, as sociologist C. Wright Mills has noted, like a crass, almost hysterical form of office friction.

Machinists and longshoremen were laborers and had no recourse other than the big stick of the union to advocate for themselves. Office workers could solve conflict man to man, boss to employee, like, well, the white gentlemen that they were—or at the very least pretended to be.

This mindset began to erode over the course of the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s—first, when massive waves of layoffs and benefit cuts destabilized the myth of the benevolent parent company. But the white maleness of the culture also began to (very gradually) shift in the wake of legal protections against discrimination related to gender, age, disability and, only recently, sexual orientation.

White male workers remained dominant in most industries, particularly in leadership roles. But they began to lose their unquestioned monopoly on the norms of the workplace. Some changes were embraced; others, especially around sexual harassment and racial discrimination, were changed via legal force.

Read More: The Pandemic Reset the Balance Between Workers and Employers. How Bosses Respond Will Shape the Future of Work

The overarching goal of HR departments in the past, going back to the field’s origins in “scientific management” of factory assembly lines, was keeping employees healthy enough to work efficiently. After 1964, their task expanded to include compliance with legal protections, in addition to the continued work of keeping employees healthy and “happy” enough to do their work well. “Unhappiness,” after all, is expensive—according to a Gallup estimate from 2013, dissatisfaction costs U.S. companies $450 million to $550 million a year in lost productivity. Unhappiness, in other words, is friction.

But as the workplace continues to diversify, how do you maintain the worker “happiness” of a bunch of different sorts of people, from different backgrounds, with different cultural contexts? There are some obvious fixes: continuing to erode the power of monoculture (in which one, limited way of being/working becomes the way of being/working to which all other employees must aspire); recruiting and retaining managers who actually know how to manage; creating a culture that encourages taking time off. But usually, the proposed solution takes the form of the HR initiative.

Take the 2010s push for “wellness,” which manifested in the form of mental-health seminars, gym memberships and free Fitbits. You can view these initiatives as part of a desire to reduce health-insurance premiums. But you can also see them as a means of confronting the reality of a workforce that, in the wake of the Great Recession, was anxious about their finances and careers, particularly as more and more workers were replaced by subcontractors, who enjoyed even fewer protections and privileges.

Or consider the push for DE&I programs in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests in 2015. These initiatives aim to acknowledge a perceived source of friction—the fact that a company is very white, its leadership remains “snowcapped,” or the workplace is quietly or aggressively hostile to Black and brown employees—while also providing a proposed solution. The corporate DE&I initiative communicates that we see this problem, we’re working to solve it, so you can talk less about it.

Wellness and DE&I initiatives are frequently unsatisfying and demoralizing, particularly for those workers they are ostensibly designed to benefit. They often lean heavily on the labor of those with the least power within an organization. And they approach systemic problems with solutions designed to disrupt people’s lives as little as possible. (A three-hour webinar will not create a culture of inclusion.) But the superficiality is part of the point.

Contain the friction, but do so by creating as little additional friction as possible, because a series of eruptions is easier to contain than a truly paradigm-shifting one that threatens the status quo and, by extension, the company’s public profile and profitability. According to a 2021 SHRM report, in the five years since DE&I initiatives swept the corporate world, 42% of Black employees, 26% of Asian employees and 21% of Hispanic employees reported experiencing unfair treatment based on their race or ethnicity.

The ramifications of racial inequity (lost productivity, turnover and absenteeism) over the past five years may have cost the U.S. up to $172 billion. But instead of acknowledging what it is about the company culture that makes it difficult to retain diverse hires, or what might have to change to recoup those losses, companies blame individual workers who were a “bad fit.” DE&I initiatives don’t fail because there’s a “diversity pipeline problem.” It’s because those in power aren’t willing to relinquish any of it.

A similar contradiction applies to the rise of “corporate empathy.” At its heart, it’s a set of policies, initiatives and messaging developed to respond to the “friction” of a workforce unsettled by the pandemic, a continuing racial reckoning and sustained political anxiety, capped off by an uprising, on a workday, days after most of the workforce had returned from winter breaks. Many empathy initiatives are well-intentioned. But coming from an employer, they still, ultimately, say: We see you are breaking in two, we are too, but how can we collectively still work as if we’re not?

Therein lies the empathy trap. So long as organizations view employees with different needs as sources of friction, and solutions to those needs as examples of unfairness, they will continue to promote and retain employees with the capacity to make their personalities, needs and identities as frictionless as possible. They will encourage “bringing the whole self to work,” but only on a good day. They will fetishize “sharing personal stories,” but only when the ramifications don’t interfere with the product or create interpersonal conflict. This is what happens when you conceive of empathy as allowances: Those who would benefit from it become less desirable workers. Their friction is centered, and their value decreases.

Our society is built around the goals of capitalism—and capitalism, and the ethos of individualism that thrives alongside it, is inherently in conflict with empathy. The qualities that make our bodies, selves and minds most amenable to those goals are prized above all else, and it is HR’s primary task to further cultivate those qualities, whether through “enrichment” or “wellness,” even when the most significant obstacle to either is the workplace itself.

Why do the declarations of empathy feel so hollow? Because growth and profit do not reward it. Companies, HR professionals, managers, even the best trained can do only so much. A large portion of the dissatisfaction that employees feel is the result of actively toxic company policy, thoughtless management and executives clinging to the status quo. But a lot of it, too, is anger at systems that extend beyond the office:

The fraying social safety nets, the decaying social bonds, the frameworks set up to devalue women’s work, the stubborn endurance of racism, the lack of protections or fair pay for the workers whose labor we ostensibly value most. We don’t know how to make people care about other people. No wonder workplace initiatives can feel so laughably incomplete. How do you cultivate a healthy workplace culture when it’s rooted in poisoned soil? “It’s not just a workplace empathy deficit,” Taylor told me. “It’s an American cultural deficit.”

By Anne Helen Petersen

Petersen is co-author of the upcoming book Out of Office: The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working From Home

Source: Why Workplace Empathy Won’t Keep Employees Happy | Time

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Contents:

Find out how emotionally intelligent you are by taking our emotional intelligence quiz.

And Mind Tools Premium club members and Corporate users can listen to our exclusive interview with Daniel Goleman

Cynthia D. Fisher; Neal M. Ashkanasy. “The Emerging Role of Emotions in Work Life: An Introduction

Hoffmann, Elizabeth A. (2016). “Emotions and Emotional Labor at Worker-Owned Businesses: Deep Acting, Surface Acting, and Genuine Emotions”. The Sociological Quarterly. 57: 152–173. doi:10.1111/tsq.12113. S2CID 145338476.

McQuerrey, Lisa. “Eight Steps to End Drama in The Workplace”. Retrieved 20 April 2014.

“Interview with Harry Prosen M.D. Psychiatric Consultant Bonobo Species Survival Plan”. Retrieved 11 August 2011.

Rosenberg, Marshall B. (2005). “5: Connecting with others empathically”. Speak peace in a world of conflict: what you say next will change your world. Puddledancer Press. pp. 240. ISBN 978-1892005175.

Empathy Definitions by Edwin Rutsch from the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy.

Mirrored emotion by Jean Decety from the University of Chicago.

Empathy and the brain by Gwen Dewar published in Parenting Science.

Empathic listening skills How to listen so others will feel heard, or listening first aid (University of California).

Study: People literally feel pain of others – mirror-touch synesthesia Live Science, 17 June 2007.

9 Ways Empathy Helps With Inner Growth

Empathy can be best defined as the trait or skill of understanding, sharing, recognizing, and even feeling the emotions, thoughts, and experiences of those around you or those who you see. It is often a crucial skill in developing healthy relationships, moral or ethical decision-making, prosocial behavior, and compassionate attitudes.

Simply put, empathy denotes an ability to walk in the shoes of another person. It can be a complex trait to develop, and some people may believe that empathy is harmful. After all, feeling the pain of others can become tiring. But in moderation, this skill is a fantastic way to improve yourself while helping others. Here are nine ways empathy helps with inner growth.

1.    Empathy Reduces Stress

You may have noticed people who are empathetic seem to experience less stress. Considering how research has shown that stress accuses all sorts of diseases, it raises the question – how does empathy help?

  • It teaches emotional regulation skills.
  • Relating to others in positive ways teaches
  • It engages in our ability to control and handle our emotions in a healthy manner.
  • It helps us recognize where and when we may be feeling stressed or emotional, thanks to observing and empathizing with our loved ones.

Empathy can be best defined as the trait or skill of understanding, sharing, recognizing, and even feeling the emotions, thoughts, and experiences of those around you or those who you see. It is often a crucial skill in developing healthy relationships, moral or ethical decision-making, prosocial behavior, and compassionate attitudes.

Simply put, empathy denotes an ability to walk in the shoes of another person. It can be a complex trait to develop, and some people may believe that empathy is harmful. After all, feeling the pain of others can become tiring. But in moderation, this skill is a fantastic way to improve yourself while helping others. Here are nine ways empathy helps with inner growth.

As you can imagine, this helps you become an emotionally more stable person in the long run – indeed a fundamental thing to any future growth and maturation you wish to experience!

2.    It Improves Your Ability To Communicate

Communication isn’t as simple as an exchange of words. After all, think about the many times you find yourself constantly misunderstood, no matter how hard you try. As it turns out, empathy can teach you how to express yourself better! This outcome is because:

  • You learn how to see, feel, and think from the other person’s perspective.
  • You’ll better understand how your words and thoughts may be interpreted by others.
  • You can tailor your expression of your thoughts and emotions to the individual you’re communicating with, so they can understand you better.
  • You can limit misunderstandings and miscommunications by seeing how the other person would process information from their point of view.

Indeed, you may notice that all of these positive benefits first require you to listen better and understand the other person before you can explain yourself in a way that truly resonates with them. This is why empathy is so important!

3.    It’s Good For General Survival

Historically speaking, being social creatures is the critical reason for our species’ continued survival – and despite how much has changed socially, this hasn’t changed on a fundamental level! Empathy allows us to:

  • Pick up on nonverbal cues that indicate something is amiss
  • Tune in immediately to a situation the second someone starts acting strangely
  • React appropriately to a life-threatening situation you haven’t seen yet, just from the behavior of others in the area
  • Pay attention to abnormal atmospheres or facial features that suggest something is wrong

These examples may sound dramatic, but they can be applicable in all sorts of places – from recognizing when a bar fight is about to erupt to paying attention to a loved one who seems to be quieter than usual.

No matter which way you slice it, empathy may be the critical thing that saves you or your loved one’s life.

4.    It’s Good For Your Health

How are empathy and your physical health related to each other? They’re more intimately intertwined than you might think. Various studies have shown a positive correlation between the ability to handle stress – a source of many health issues – and high levels of empathy.

This is because of empathy:

  • It encourages us to form close bonds that form the basis of our support network.
  • Teaches us how to form healthy coping mechanisms when trying to manage stress.
  • It assists us in paying attention to our bodies as an extension of learning how to observe those around us.
  • Reduces depression and anxiety levels as we communicate and empathize with our loved ones.
  • It helps us create healthy boundaries so we can avoid picking up second-hand stress and negative emotions.
  • Encourages positive thinking and mindsets via reconnecting to the world around us.

This ultimately leads to a better psychological and physiological state, resulting in a much better health and immune system. Not to mention, it’s easier to take care of yourself when you’re mentally and emotionally more stable and healthy!

5.    It Can Guide Your Moral Compass

Normally, we learn empathy and emotional regulation in childhood – something that research has shown is important for our development. But that doesn’t mean our journey stops there!

As we grow older and meet new people, we must continue to learn and adapt to the changing world around us – and in this aspect, empathy is an essential tool. For example, it:

  • It helps us re-evaluate our core values and morals
  • Shapes and guides how we care for others and how we expect to be cared for
  • It shows us how to take care of those around us
  • Encourages us to strive for a better understanding of those we love

In other words, empathy can actually help us reshape our foundational understanding of the world and our relationship with it. This is important, as it can lead to us growing both mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as we strive to meet the needs of our loved ones!

6.    It Connects You To Others

Ever found yourself just sitting there, unsure as to how to respond to someone else? Empathy is actually a vital and helpful tool in this regard!

How so? Research has shown that empathy is responsible for helping us better understand and respond to a loved one’s actions – both in the present and for potential future actions. Here are a few ways how it mentally preps you and encourages you to form positive relationships:

  • It helps us feel and better understand what the other person is experiencing.
  • Teaches us how to reciprocate and make the other person feel seen and heard.
  • It assists us in forming and nurturing intimate bonds where both sides can feel safe and vulnerable.
  • It encourages us to listen to those around us truly and really take the time to be there for them.

The final result? We end up learning not just about experiences we couldn’t otherwise have possibly gotten on our own, but also will likely end up with a close and personal relationship with the other person!

Over time, you will likely find that this sort of behavior cultivates deep, intimate connections that can bring you a sense of peace and stability – an incredibly vital foundation for any further inner growth you wish to achieve.

7.    It Helps Prosocial Behavior

We are only human, so it’s natural to want close, intimate, and meaningful bonds. In fact, it is hardwired into our very DNA – we wouldn’t have gotten this far without that desire to bond with those around us, after all. As you can imagine, this means that the ability to empathize is crucial. This is because it:

  • It teaches us how to become more compassionate and caring
  • It’s crucial to our ability to communicate and connect with others
  • It encourages us to care for and help each other
  • Assists us in being kind and understanding to others around us
  • It tries to make us see things from a different point of view

From there, we then learn how to adjust our behavior and actions to ensure we are doing our best to love and care for those around us. This can then ultimately lead us to create the relationships so fundamental to our emotional and mental wellbeing!

8.    It Fights Burnout

There is some irony in how, in an increasingly connected world, we feel even more lonely. And with that loneliness comes all sorts of mental health struggles and burnout as we struggle with work on our own. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

A study has shown that those workers who are empathetic actually deal with less burnout – something you might find interesting! Here’s how empathy can help you achieve these outcomes:

  • It guides us in how we can communicate with those around us.
  • Assists in the development of soft skills that are crucial to handling conflicts with others.
  • It teaches us how to ensure both sides feel seen and heard.
  • It helps us connect and form meaningful relationships with others.
  • Encourages us to create social networks that can inversely support us in our times of need.
  • Promotes positive thinking as we pull from the experiences of others around us.

With the development of better communication and conflict-management skills, you may find yourself becoming a more emotionally mature and understanding person as you rise against the challenges life throws at you. And it’s all thanks to empathy!

9.    It Improves Your Work

With just how helpful it is when you’re trying to both listen and to be heard, it’s no wonder that empathy forms a core aspect of communication – a vital skill in any team-based work. But there’s more to this than just better communication. Empathy also helps:

  • Negotiating with others to create a solution that meets everyone’s needs and desires
  • Encourages teamwork when trouble-shooting issues
  • Creates an environment of respect and trust
  • It makes people feel valued and involved in any project
  • It makes for a smoother transition and workflow, as you are already paying attention and anticipating the quirks and workstyles of those around you

As you can imagine, these aspects are all super helpful when you’re working on any team-based project. And these skills are transferable too! You can just as easily apply these positive benefits to both your work and your personal life and watch your relationships become better for it! Final Thoughts On Some Ways Empathy Helps With Inner Growth

Empathy is a valuable trait, yet it may seem like it is rapidly declining in today’s world. This can seem discouraging, and some may even worry that being empathetic may open them up to feelings of pain and discomfort.

The lucky truth is that this is not the case. Empathy is crucial for your inner growth and can actually make you stronger, healthier, and more resilient. If you struggle with developing empathy for others, you can speak to a mental health professional for help.

By:

Source: 9 Ways Empathy Helps With Inner Growth | Power of Positivity

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Critics:

Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another’s position. Definitions of empathy encompass a broad range of emotional states. Types of empathy include cognitive empathy, emotional (or affective) empathy, somatic, and spiritual empathy.

Empathy is generally divided into two major components:

Affective empathy

Affective empathy, also called emotional empathy: the capacity to respond with an appropriate emotion to another’s mental states. Our ability to empathize emotionally is based on emotional contagion: being affected by another’s emotional or arousal state.

Cognitive empathy

Cognitive empathy: the capacity to understand another’s perspective or mental state. The terms social cognition, perspective-taking, theory of mind, and mentalizing are often used synonymously, but due to a lack of studies comparing theory of mind with types of empathy, it is unclear whether these are equivalent.

Although measures of cognitive empathy include self-report questionnaires and behavioral measures, a 2019 meta analysis found only a negligible association between self report and behavioral measures, suggesting that people are generally not able to accurately assess their own cognitive empathy abilities.

Somatic empathy

We Need to Reimagine a More Family-Friendly Workplace

I started five businesses from scratch, and I can tell you the quality of talent that I was able to recruit early on made all the difference in whether I succeeded or stumbled.

What I’ve learned over the years is that recruiting the best and brightest isn’t just about cushy office furniture or amenities like free coffee, a stocked fridge or a downstairs gym. Today’s talent are seeking employers who offer a education fund or even a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) account to help pay for support services.

I see a small number of big businesses, such as and , incorporating child care into their list of employee perks. But, smaller businesses can also up their perks game by offering child care as a benefit. This creates a where parents feel supported and encouraged to advance in their careers.

Lifting the constant financial and emotional burden of working parents will no doubt raise the bar on the caliber of employees you attract and retain.

Family benefits not only foster loyalty, but these pro-family policies can also be profitable by boosting productivity.  The availability of paid child care plays a key role in allowing parents with children to remain in the labor force.  In each year from 2016 to 2018, more than 2 million parents of children age 5 and younger had to quit a job, not take a job, or change their job because of child care challenges — disproportionately affecting women. American businesses, meanwhile, lose an estimated $12.7 billion annually because of their employees’ child care challenges. Nationally, the cost of lost earnings, productivity, and revenue due to the child care crisis is estimated at $57 billion annually.

Lack of child care is also one of the primary factors that prevent us from creating an equitable workforce and eliminating the wage and gender gap. Just take a look at the millions of mothers who have lost or left their jobs due to child care burdens caused by the pandemic.

Since March 2020, Black and Latina moms have stopped working, either voluntarily or due to layoffs, at higher rates than white moms. Many are single moms who need child care but haven’t been able to access it during the pandemic. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, single moms had higher rates of than their childless counterparts in the second and third quarters of 2020.

Experts forecast that loss of skills, tenure and income among women of color will shape the future U.S. . One reason is that insufficient child care could impact their ability to re-enter the workforce, their wages, their long-term economic outcomes and the overall economic recovery.

Like many single mom of color, I also struggled with chasing the “American Dream” due to child care challenges. In fact, my success as a C-level executive was slowed due to lack of adequate child care for my son. In 2004, for example, I was passed for a vice president of sales position because I couldn’t make it to work at the required 6:30 a.m. time due to lack of before-school care for my son. I struggled throughout much of my career with this challenge, especially being in technology, a primarily male-dominted industry.

Related: 4 Ways Your Company Can Radically Help Working Mothers

In an era where women are projected to make up 60% of the workforce in the next five years, employers can leverage existing technology to provide fully managed child care benefits, giving their workforce the flexibility and family support needed to gain employee productivity and increase ROI.

As entrepreneurs and company leaders, we can do better. We have the power to completely change the course of child care in the US while dramatically transforming our company cultures by redesigning the workplace to be more family friendly. This is the future of work.

By: Alessandra Lezama / Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

Source: We Need to Reimagine a More Family-Friendly Workplace

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Critics:

Work–family balance in the United States refers to the specific issues that arise when men and women in the United States attempt to balance their occupational lives with their family lives. This differs from work–life balance in the United States: while work–life balance may refer to the health and living issues that arise from work, work–family balance refers specifically to how work and families intersect and influence each other. Work–family balance in the U.S. differs significantly for families of different social class.

Middle-class family issues center on dual-earner spouses and parents while lower class issues center on problems that arise due to single parenting. Work–family balance issues also differ by class, since middle class occupations provide more benefits and family support while low-wage jobs are less flexible with benefits. Solutions for helping individuals manage work–family balance in the U.S. include legislation, workplace policies, and the marketization of care work.

References

Dillaway, Heather and Elizabeth Pare. 2008. “Locating Mothers How Cultural Debates About Stay-at-Home Versus Working Mothers Define Women and Home.” Journal of Family Issues 29(4): 437-464.

Remote Living Has Eroded Our Empathy and Executives Must Find a Way To Understand Their Staff

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It is difficult to count what we have lost during the pandemic. We’ve lost jobs, loved ones, incomes and our social lives. Living and working remotely has also meant we are losing our empathy for colleagues. This is especially true of business leaders and executives who need to be able to understand the problems their employees are grappling with as we leave lockdown.

This loss in our ability to empathize with one another is not new. In 2018, 51 per cent of Brits said they thought it was declining, compared with just 12 per cent who thought it was increasing. The pandemic has supercharged this. We are looking at one another through screens and heavily ensconced in our own worlds, so it is difficult to expand our awareness to people with different experiences.

There is a crucial difference between empathy and sympathy. To sympathize with someone means we feel sad for their misfortune. Empathy, on the other hand, means understanding and sharing the feelings of another.

Throughout the pandemic, most of us have been able to sympathize with those who have lost jobs or family members. We have been able to feel compassion for those living in cramped quarters. But by being physically separated from them, we have not been able to truly understand and empathize with those people.

We have become distanced from our employees and, more widely, our customers – the

majority of who increasingly want to deal with companies and brands that demonstrate their care for people and the planet. As offices start to reopen, it is vital we can act with empathy towards our staff and those we serve. This is crucially important for those at the top of businesses, who have kept their jobs and had a different experience of the pandemic.

In order to understand the customers and people they are serving, business leaders need to be able to understand their staff. There is a huge array of experience just waiting to be tapped into to create a more empathetic work environment. Some communities are more tight-knit than others and have had better support systems throughout lockdown. Younger workers may have been more isolated and need more help and encouragement returning to the office.

Often senior executives have more in common with other senior executives than their customers and other target audiences, such as staff. Therefore, learning how to rebuild lost empathy will mean spending more time with the people you’ve never met. To lead with listening and not opining, to immerse yourself first-hand in the real-world experience of your customers’ lives rather than just reading reports about them.

On a practical level, this might look like asking for written feedback from staff on their experience of lockdown. It could also mean trying to spend time in the office coffee shop. Appearing physically accessible to employees will encourage conversations that can never happen over email.

There is also a place for data, but not as we know it. In today’s big data era, digital interaction between companies and customers means businesses have access to more data than ever before. Sourcing the most valuable data isn’t the only challenge. When there is an over-reliance on endless sheets of numbers it can be difficult to define behaviors. There is a risk of losing a richness of understanding. One-on-one interviews with staff or customers can be more useful than “big data”.  It can be costly and time-consuming and, because  of this, it often gets left behind.

However, with so much of the same data out there, it is in the small, slow data that the most striking insights can be found – nuanced findings that can make all the difference between people thinking you and your business are empathetic, or not.

By:   Joint Chief Strategy Officer at BBH London

Source: Remote living has eroded our empathy and executives must find a way to understand their staff – CityAM : CityAM

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Would you consider yourself an empathetic person at work? Are you always willing to lend an ear to your co-worker’s latest band practice drama, or would you prefer to keep conversations at the corporate level?

A recent survey conducted for the 2018 State of Workplace Empathy reported that a whopping 96% of respondents rated empathy as an important quality for companies to demonstrate. Despite this, 92% of employees believe that empathy remains undervalued at their company, which is an increase from results in prior years.

Empathy is described as not just understanding another person’s perspective, but truly putting yourself in their shoes and feeling those emotions alongside that person. It’s a cornerstone of emotional intelligence, and when a workplace demonstrates empathy, there are countless studies that correlate it to increased happiness, productivity, and retention amongst employees.

Empathy Is The Skill Of The Future, Google Says

EMPATHY is now a major skill needed in growing an innovation mindset in an organization as it helps business leaders come up with better solutions, Google LLC’s Chief Innovation Evangelist Frederik G. Pferdt said.

“Empathy is the skill of the future, and practicing empathy every day as a business leader, for example, helps you understand what your employees need and what your immediate team actually needs right now, So, putting yourself into their situation, to really understand how they really think and feel, helps you come up with better solutions for your employees,” Mr. Pferdt said at a virtual forum on Jan. 29.

He noted that innovation is now in great demand due to the pandemic crisis.

“In the past, everyone wanted to innovate. Now, everyone needs to innovate. This pandemic allows everyone to do things differently and has been a key innovation accelerator for companies and individuals who are trying to not only survive the crisis, but finally move forward again,” he said.

Hence, business leaders should help their teams develop an innovation mindset, he said. Aside from practicing empathy, it is important that business leaders are able to reframe challenges into opportunities, Mr. Pferdt noted.

“Reimagine tomorrow, today. How can or should tomorrow be different? What could a better world look like? Mindset matters!” he said. “Small and big experiments lead to learning how the future could work,” he added.

He also said the power of rituals can be used in organizations to build a “sense of belonging and cohesion in times of distance.”“Leaders need to identify values, craft powerful rituals, and foster a future-ready culture that’s prepared for the new normal. After all, you need trust and collaboration to establish a culture of innovation.”

Adobe’s 2021 Digital Trends Report, an annual survey that charts the evolution of marketing, advertising, e-commerce, creative and technology professionals, also identified empathy as the driver of experience.

“Empathy is an under-utilized differentiator that is accessible to all by combining their depth of customer and product knowledge and then demonstrating it at critical stages in the experience,” the report said.

“Understanding how people feel is an essential, but often an overlooked part of the experience. Analyzing and anticipating their reactions at decision points and during moments of friction will make the process work better for both sides,” it explained.

By Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter

Source: Empathy is the skill of the future, Google says | BusinessWorld

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Technology is radically transforming the world of work. But despite AI’s rapid advancements, robots will never be able to do everything humans can. Saadia Zahidi explains how creativity and empathy will be more important in the future, as jobs grow in professions such as caregiving and teaching. But for workers to keep with change, reskilling, upskilling and retraining is essential. Here’s what you need to know about the skills you’ll need to stay ahead.
The World Economic Forum is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. The Forum engages the foremost political, business, cultural and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. We believe that progress happens by bringing together people from all walks of life who have the drive and the influence to make positive change. World Economic Forum Website ► http://www.weforum.org/ Facebook ► https://www.facebook.com/worldeconomi… YouTube ► https://www.youtube.com/wef Instagram ► https://www.instagram.com/worldeconom… Twitter ► https://twitter.com/wef LinkedIn ► https://www.linkedin.com/company/worl… TikTok ► https://www.tiktok.com/@worldeconomic… Flipboard ► https://flipboard.com/@WEF
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World Music Awards – BTS Trend Atop Twitter Worldwide With #StopAsianHate & #StopAAPIHate After Sharing A Statement Condemning The Recent Wave Of Anti-Asian Violence And Hate In The U.S On Their Social Media Accounts!!����➕���� �������������� #BTS 방탄소년단 are trending atop Twitter Worldwide with #StopAsianHate & #StopAAPIHata after posting a statement on Monday night on their social media accounts, condemning the recent wave of anti-Asian violence and hate in the U.S. The statement began with BTS offering their “deepest condolences to those who have lost their loved ones” during the March 16 shootings outside Atlanta, in which a gunman shot dead 6 Asian women after storming 3 Asian massage parlors! The statement highlighted moments when BTS themselves “faced discrimination as Asians”. The band endured “expletives without reason and were made fun of “the way we look” and being “asked why Asians spoke in English.” The statement says the band’s “own experiences are inconsequential” compared to therecent events but that the racism was “enough to make us feel powerless and chip away our self-esteem.” The band stressed that “what is happening right now cannot be dissociated from our identity as Asians,” and that they took their time to consider carefully how they would use their voice to speak up on the issue. In a call to action, BTS ends the statement by affirming that “we stand against racial discrimination. We condemn violence. You, I and we all have the right to be respected.” #StopAsianHate#StopAAPIHate pic.twitter.com/mOmttkOpOt — 방탄소년단 (@BTS_twt) March 30, 2021 See full statement below: “We send our deepest condolences to those who have lost their loved ones. We feel grief and anger. We recall moments when we faced discrimination as Asians. We have endured expletives without reason and were mocked for the way we look. We were even asked why Asians spoke in English. We cannot put into words the pain of becoming the subject of hatred and violence for such a reason. Our own experiences are inconsequential compared to the events that have occurred over the past few weeks. But these experiences were enough to make us feel powerless and chip away our self-esteem. What is happening right now cannot be dissociated from our identity as Asians. It required considerable time for us to discuss this carefully and we contemplated deeply on how we should voice our message. But what our voice must convey is clear. We stand against racial discrimination. We condemn violence. You, I and we all have the right to be respected. We will stand together.” | Facebook
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5 Concrete Ways To Build Empathy Into Your Creative Practice

IMAGE: Three women working together on papers on a table

The concept of empathy has become ubiquitous in corporate culture—though some would argue that it’s just a trend. On a societal level, though, we’re dealing with an empathy crisis—and as creatives, the solution’s in our hands.

What is empathy?

Psychologists and empathy specialists Daniel Goleman and Paul Ekman have broken empathy down into not just one definition, but three different types.

Cognitive empathy is understanding what another human being is feeling, and potentially what they are thinking. Having cognitive empathy leads to better communication, negotiation, and motivation.

Emotional empathy is actually feeling what another person feels, whether that is joy or pain. We may feel the same whether we experience the emotion or whether we see someone else experience it. Daniel describes this as emotional contagion, which could be attributed to themirror neuron concept.

Compassionate empathy is both understanding a person’s situation and feeling for them, ultimately resulting in some kind of action.

What empathy isn’t

Empathy isn’t simply a soft skill, a fluffy feel-good term, or a tool for business. Empathy also isn’t about becoming so absorbed in a person or a situation that you let others take advantage of you.

Katherine Bell, former editor of Harvard Business Review, put it eloquently when she described her experience with empathy.

“I’ve learned that empathy isn’t about being nice or tolerant. It’s not about feeling sorry for people or giving them the benefit of the doubt. It’s an act of imagination in which you try to look at the world from the perspective of another person, a human being whose history and point of view are as complex as your own.”

Empathy in action

Empathy is an absolutely critical piece of a productive and functioning relationship. It’s the driving force of my business; I run Make a Mark, an organization bringing together altruistic creators and innovative humanitarian organizations. We hold 12-hour design and development make-a-thons benefitting local nonprofit organizations.

We learned early on that empathy is critical to the make-a-thon process, and we still take care to nurture that element of all the make-a-thons we run. Our projects are successful because of the depth of the relationships, community, and, ultimately, a strong sense of empathy beginning with the organizers.

As part of this, we work with site leaders around the globe to help craft the events. These site leaders are our eyes on the ground, working to build the perfect event for their specific community with our guidance and framework.

These two groups often have no understanding of how the other functions. Makers might talk about wireframes and vector files and hosting, while nonprofit leaders might talk about line items or tax codes or grant monitoring.

Our role is to facilitate successful brainstorming and build mutual respect—through empathy. While being empathetic leads to a more understanding, caring, and actionable society, it also leads to better results. Success comes from understanding who we work with—and for.

That is why in 12 hours, maker teams can craft something that would normally take months to create. They dig in so deeply with such open hearts and minds that the result is also always magical—often leaving nonprofits and makers in tears.

Create a better workflow

Understanding your coworkers is a key function of empathy in the workplace. In the US, we spend roughly 1/3 of our adult life at work—meaning we spend more of our waking hours with our coworkers than our family members.

While this is a trend that I certainly hope changes, with more remote companies like InVision and the opportunity to start our own initiatives, this means that finding ways to collaborate effectively and positively with our coworkers is key to our success and our happiness.

Being able to deeply relate to your clients is an essential element of empathy. In our relationships with nonprofits, we understand that their working lives are very different than our lives, or the lives of a designer in New York or developer in San Francisco; nonprofit employees often spend their days underpaid, under-resourced, and scrutinized by grant monitors, all while attempting to serve their populations.

While we are the experts on design and development for these organizations, these individuals are also experts in their fields—and we have a lot that we can learn from them. In 2016, at our second make-a-thon in Virginia, we were meeting with an organization providing temporary housing to the homeless during the cold winter months.

They applied for the make-a-thon needing a new website, and when we met with them and their maker team we were prepared to craft a sleek, feature-rich website. It became clear, however, after a few minutes of talking to their representative, that the real need was getting the information about the shelter to those experiencing homelessness—most of whom don’t have computers. But they do have smartphones.

We immediately scrapped the idea of a stylish and robust website and decided to focus on something hyper-simple and incredibly mobile-friendly. If we hadn’t paused to understand what the person experiencing homelessness was feeling and thinking (cognitive empathy), felt the struggle of that individual to find a place to stay (emotional empathy), and re-thought our whole approach to creating their website (compassionate empathy), then we wouldn’t have brought a useful, relevant solution for the nonprofit and their population in dire need.

Building empathy

So how do we actively build empathy? Is there any way to actually increase our empathy, especially in our work? Absolutely!

Ask questions

Too often we assume that we know the answer to questions from past experiences; that we know what a person is like and how they will act. Alternatively, we may view someone as so different from us that there is no way that we could collaborate or reach a common ground.

By asking questions, we challenge existing notions and increase our cognitive empathy. A few examples: How does this situation make you feel? What is the outcome you are hoping for? Can you explain your perspective to help me understand?

Of course, it isn’t just about the question that you ask; it’s also about the way that you ask it. Make sure that you approach the other calmly and openly so they don’t feel attacked or criticized. Asking questions is easy, but listening can be hard—because we regularly listen for the answers we want to hear.

Listening requires both your eyes and your ears. You can learn a lot from someone’s body language. Are they tense? Why are they tense? Is it because this topic is uncomfortable to them? If so, why? This leads to additional questions.

By listening, asking questions, and listening some more, we’re able to extend our cognitive empathy.

Consider outside factors (and leave your ego at the door)

Listening with both senses gives us insight into who people are—and why they are that way.

Maybe a coworker walks into the office in the morning and ignores your hello. This doesn’t mean that you are the cause of their frustration, even if you are the recipient of it.

I recall a time in a past job that a coworker that I worked closely with was consistently sending terse emails to me about materials that she was waiting for. These emails came frequently and often for no reason, straining our relationship. I dismissed this coworker as hostile and limited interactions with her, leading to poor collaborations and sub-par results.

I eventually spoke to another coworker about the situation and was informed that she was working to maintain her composure while her father was struggling with a chronic illness.

This opened my eyes to the vast situations that we all experience and improved my emotional empathy. I asked myself how I would maintain my positive attitude and interactions with coworkers while someone I loved deeply was struggling physically? How would I want my coworkers to treat me?

Allow time for reflection

Reflection is something that I personally value immensely. Anytime I am part of a meeting that I am not leading myself, I am radio silent. Ok, maybe not radio silent, but I like to listen and take in the information, digest it and return with my perspective.

Not everyone works like this, and not everyone should; if they did, meetings would be a bunch of people sitting around a table staring at each other. This reflection period, however, has its place—and certainly a role in building empathy.

We take in a lot of information every day, navigating complicated personal and professional relationships with coworkers and clients. With all that thinking, we need to spend some time reflecting—to better understand, navigate, and nurture those relationships.

Take action

With some thoughtfulness and a lot of care, empathy can be yours. This doesn’t mean you need to do something right at this moment, but keep in mind the outside forces, the internal struggles, and the predispositions of those you’re working with. Ask questions, listen, and reflect. Then, do what you believe is right—for your company, for your work, for others and for yourself.

Want to learn more about empathy?

Sarah Obenauer

 

By: Sarah Obenauer

Sarah Obenauer is the Founder & Director of Make a Mark, an organization created to provide resources and foster an environment where community organizations and visual communicators can engage with one another to better our world.Make a Mark’s flagship event is a 12-hour design and development marathon benefiting humanitarian causes.

Source: 5 concrete ways to build empathy into your creative practice | Inside Design Blog

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Empathy is a cornerstone for successful relationships, but it is a quality that has to be intentional. Most people like to feel understood, but the mark of maturity is in knowing how to demonstrate understanding. In the end, the understanding you wish to receive becomes more likely. Dr. Les Carter shares a story, then 9 essential adjustments that will help you become a more empathetic person.
Dr. Les Carter is a best selling author and therapist who lives in Dallas, TX. Over the past 39 years he has conducted 60,000 counseling sessions and many workshops and seminars. Books by Dr. Carter: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/When-… https://www.amazon.com/When-Pleasing-… https://www.amazon.com/Anger-Trap-You… https://www.amazon.com/Enough-About-Y… While Dr. Carter does not conduct online counseling, he has vetted a group who can assist you: https://betterhelp.com/drcarter (sponsored) Dr. Carter’s online workshops on narcissism, anger management, and overcoming infidelity: http://drlescarter.com/video-workshops/
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In Denmark, Empathy Is Taught As A School Subject That Kids Must Learn From A Very Young Age

When a baby is born, their mind is a clean slate. How they are exposed to the world decides what gets written on it, which subsequently decides what type of person they will become. This does mean that at an impressionable age, the child should be taught things that will shape them into a person who will grow up to contribute to society.

They will learn to pick up kindness, empathy, generosity, honesty instead of other detrimental qualities. When a whole generation of children grows up with good attributes, the world will definitely be a better place to live in.

In Denmark, they place a lot of importance on cultivating empathy in their children. Believe it or not, people do not actually care about others’ well-being. It is something we are socialized into and something that is necessary for us to survive. While math and science are important in life, Denmark knows that empathy is much more important a life lesson that will take people further than numbers and formulas ever will.

This is why Danish schools decided to introduce mandatory empathy classes in 1993. In these classes, children aged 6-16 are taught how to be kind, according to My Modern Met.

The children during the empathy classes or “Klassens tid” are asked to share any problems or issues they are going through. The entire class pitches in to help find a solution. Kids grow up to become confident, emotionally intelligent adults, who will know not to judge people for their struggles. This also means that they are more likely to raise happier kids themselves.

Denmark has consistently been at the top of the UN’s World Happiness Report. In the latest report, Denmark stood in second place followed by Finland. Denmark has been at the top in 2012, 2013, and 2016. Perhaps the empathy classes have a lot to contribute in this aspect.

The Danish Way stated, “Empathy helps build relationships, prevent bullying and succeed at work. It promotes the growth of leaders, entrepreneurs, and managers. ‘Empathic teenagers’ tend to be more successful because they are more oriented towards the goals compared to their more narcissistic peers.” Empathy is also taught through teamwork where those excelling and those lacking are made to work together.

This not only helps with understanding the positive qualities of each other but also lift each other up to complete a task without being pulled down by competition with each other. Another popular program is called the CAT-kit. In this program, the aim is to improve emotional awareness and empathy by focusing on how to articulate experiences, thoughts, feelings, and senses, reported The Atlantic.

There are picture cards of faces, measuring sticks to gauge the intensity of emotions, and pictures of the body, included in the CAT-kit so kids can understand the emotions being exhibited while also learning to conceptualize their own and others’ feelings. In the classroom setting, along with the facilitator, the children are taught not to be judgemental but acknowledge and respect these sentiments.

“A child who is naturally talented in mathematics, without learning to collaborate with their peers, will not go much further. They will need help in other subjects. It is a great lesson to teach children from an early age since no one can go through life alone,” says Jessica Alexander, author of the book The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids. She adds,

“Many studies show that when you explain something to someone – like a math problem for example – you not only learn the subject much better than you would do by memorizing it yourself, but you also build our empathy skills which are further strengthened by having to be careful about the way the other person receives the information and having to put oneself in their shoes to understand how learning works.”

Source: In Denmark, Empathy Is Taught As A School Subject That Kids Must Learn From A Very Young Age

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Anxiety levels are rising among primary and secondary school children across the globe. For parents and educators, this is a worrying trend. What are we doing wrong and what could we be doing to fix it? Could Denmark’s teaching practices hold the key to happiness in the classroom. By Mariana Rudan. #denmark #education #teachingempathy #danisheducation #marianarudan
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3 Ways To Be An Authentically Empathetic Brand

The pandemic has shown us that brands and leaders acting with empathy, authenticity and transparency have an edge. From the media attention and cultural significance Zoom garnered by supporting K-12 schools to Starbucks expanding mental health benefits to its employees and their families, consumers are taking notice. In fact, DoSomethingStrategic has been researching Gen Z’s response to brands throughout the COVID-19 crisis and found that even young people are paying attention to how companies treat employees, partners and communities — and they reward or punish said companies with their wallets.

According to a recent poll, Americans believe it is now more critical than ever that brands “demonstrate empathetic qualities and take action to maintain customer loyalty and support.”

Empathetic leaders, cultures and brands enjoy higher levels of innovation, collaboration, loyalty, positive word of mouth and, per my experience and research, profitability and market valuation. The results prove that empathy is not just good for society; it’s great for business.

Leaders are starting to get it. But how can they ensure this empathy comes across as authentic and engaging to customers? After all, we’ve all been burned by companies that say they care about customers when the reality is quite different.

To be believable, effective branding must start from the inside out. Here are three ways to ensure your brand — as a leader or as a company — walks the talk and avoids what I call the dreaded “empathy veneer.”

1. Move Beyond Social Memes

Marketing can’t solve all your reputation issues. It simply communicates the truth of your real story. Involve every department in the conversation: HR, product, customer service. Who are we? Why are we here? Who do we serve? What are we about? Align on your mission and values, and audit your policies and practices to back up your claims. If you have not “operationalized” this value, no one will believe in it. For example, if your company is taking an empathetic stance on racial injustice, posting nice thoughts on social media is not enough. Your company must change its hiring practices, recruiting policies and pay structures to make customers believe you are the real deal.

2. Hire For Emotional Intelligence

A brand is merely a collection of actions performed by people. If you truly want to be an empathetic brand, you must hire the right people to live it out. This means going beyond the resume and assessing emotional intelligence. Ask tough questions to get to who people really are: How did they get past a disagreement with a colleague? What do they do to ensure their team members feel seen, heard and valued? How do they handle negative feedback? How have they gone “off script” to solve a customer’s problem? You can always teach technical skills but it’s harder to teach someone to be creative or collaborative in a clutch moment.

3. Leverage Accountability and Rewards

If you want your organization to have an empathetic culture, you have to make that the criteria for success. This means acknowledging, rewarding and modeling the behaviors you seek through performance evaluations or bonus discussions. Others will see that this is how success happens at your company, and they will understand this is what is expected. Employees are not dumb. If you’re constantly rewarding people who blatantly ignore core values, refuse to listen or disrespect colleagues, you send a clear message that your words mean nothing.

Your company can’t simply make empty marketing promises if your internal processes don’t align to external gestures. Branding starts from the inside out.

It’s not merely about projecting an empathetic brand. Walk your talk across the entire customer experience. If you do that, customers will see you as authentic and engaging, whether they’re interacting with your company in person or online.

By: Maria Ross , Founder, Red Slice

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Flying Canvas Productions

There are 3 components you must have to market with empathy. But first, you must understand what empathy really is: a personal identification between story and audience. It’s not enough to create video content. Customers demand stories. Therefore, brands have to be storytellers. This video guides you through the requirements of empathetic marketing, while steering clear of the pitfalls of misusing it. https://flyingcanvasproductions.com/e…​ Flying Canvas is more than a video production company. We’re story-makers. We’re an artisan video marketing studio for the digital brands and agencies, who want to rise to the modern customer’s demands. https://flyingcanvasproductions.com

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How Empathy Helps Bridge Generational Differences

As long as we have generations, we will have the following: nods of disapproval, eye rolls and facepalms while we take a deep breath. There’s just something about the generation older and younger than on our own that makes us do these things.

SPOILER ALERT: They are doing the same things to us.

Bridging the Generation Gap with Empathy

For many, this triggering of emotions through seemingly uncontrollable body language appears as a sign of disrespect. But for me, it shows a lack of empathy on everyone’s part — an unwillingness to understand the other person. It is that emptiness of empathy that is a regular struggling point between generations.

This is a topic that has come up many times on Thin Difference.

Empathy, the ability to understand someone else’s feelings, is one of the most important traits we can have. Leading with empathy creates a road map that will always benefit both parties.

I’ve always felt that at the root of any disagreement or displeasure with a situation is a deep misunderstanding of that situation. When we have “had enough” of someone, we’ll often use phrases like “I’m trying to get him to understand,” or “doesn’t she realize,” “I don’t get what he’s doing.”

You’ll never understand what that other person is thinking if you don’t attempt to find out.

Caught Between Two Generations

For the first time in my life I’m feeling smack dab in the middle of two generations. I have my parents on one side and my daughter on the other. Being in this position, I’ve also found that I’ve become more dependent on my parents and daughter.

When I am asked for assistance or perhaps seek it out, many times, without thinking straight, I want it on my terms; this is how I would do it, so this is how you should do it.

But it does not work that way, regardless of which generation you are dealing with.

Technology and the growing dependence our world has on it, has become an area of friction between Baby Boomers and, well, pretty much every generation after them. For example, my mom was having a problem with something on her phone, and I asked her “to text me a screen cap” of what she was seeing. Huh? That phrase is literally a foreign language to her and many people.

This struggle regularly shows up in the workplace. Technology aids us in doing things more efficiently and keeping us better connected. So when someone is out of the loop or working slower, it’s just so irritating … to us. And while many people will forever be stuck in their old ways, there are many that are willing to learn. But we need to understand that not everyone learns at the same pace. If we gain a better understanding of why someone is having trouble, then we can help find the right solution.

Teaching Empathy

When it comes to my daughter, our struggles are mostly about time management. Up until she was 10, she was pretty content going with the flow of whatever myself and my wife were up to. If we said we were going somewhere, she was going too. She also rarely suggested play dates, sleepovers or trips to the mall. This all changed once she became a tween.

Now she wants to do all of those things, all of the time. Those trips to the mall, the roller rink, coffee shops and trampoline cost money and perhaps even worse, my time … and my wife’s time and the time of the other parents.

If they want to do these things, someone has to drive them and in some cases wait for them. While it’s easy to say no, because it would inconvenience me, I have to remember to empathize.

Whenever I am using “I” too much in a conflict, I do not fully understand the big picture. I have to remember what it was like to be 12 years old and not want to sit at home on a Saturday. I have to remember what it’s like to walk around a mall with my friends, the freedom, the fun. I have to remember what it feels like to always hear the word “no.”

And so I oblige, sometimes.

But I also use it as an opportunity to teach empathy. When the answer is “no,” she needs to understand why. Because “no” isn’t because I don’t want her to be with her friends — which would be the assumption and why she would get angry with me. It’s usually because the ask is disrupting an already scheduled out day. I’ve noticed her approach has been different lately.

She now asks “are we doing anything later today,” or tomorrow, or on Saturday night, etc. She has a much better understanding of our situations and how she needs to consider them so she can have the result she wants.

There’s No “I” in Empathy

Earlier I mentioned phrases that are often born out of frustration we are having with someone. Those phrases all included the “I.” I have found whenever I am using “I” too much in dealing with conflict, then I do not fully understand the big picture.

I am not empathizing.

It’s when “I” turns into “we” that we can reach the ideal compromise. And when we have compromise through empathy, the walls built between generations become be much smaller.

By : Justin Kanoya

Photo by Dario Valenzuela on Unsplash

GenerationsCommunication, Culture, Empathy, Family, Generations. Post link.

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TEDx Talks

In a fractured world, can we hack our own sense of empathy and get others to become more empathic? Professor, Department of Psychology, Stanford University Jamil Zaki is an assistant professor of psychology at Stanford University. His research examines social cognition and behavior, especially how people understand and respond to each other’s emotions. This work spans a number of domains, social influence, prosocial behavior, and especially empathy (see ssnl.stanford.edu for details). In addition to studying the mechanics of empathy, Dr. Zaki’s work focuses on helping people empathize better. For instance, new research from his lab examines how to encourage empathy for people from distant political and ethnic groups, and also how caregivers and healthcare professionals can effectively empathize with their patients while maintaining their own well being. http://ssnl.stanford.edu

Empathy & Perspective Taking: How Social Skills Are Built

Understanding what other people want, how they feel, and how they see the world is becoming increasingly important in our complex, globalized society. Social skills enable us to make friends and create a network of people who support us. But not everyone finds it easy to interact with other people. One of the main reasons is that two of the most important social skills — empathy, i.e. being able to empathize with the other person’s emotions, and the ability to take a perspective, i.e. being able to gain an information by adopting another person’s point of view — are developed to different degrees.

Researchers have long been trying to find out what helps one to understand others. The more you know about these two social skills, the better you can help people to form social relationships. However, it still not exactly clear what empathy and perspective taking are (the latter is also known as “theory of mind”).

Being able to read a person’s emotions through their eyes, understand a funny story, or interpret the action of another person — in everyday life there are always social situations that require these two important abilities. However, they each require a combination of different individual subordinate skills. If it is necessary to interpret looks and facial expressions in one situation, in another it may be necessary to think along with the cultural background of the narrator or to know his or her current needs.

To date, countless studies have been conducted that examine empathy and perspective taking as a whole. However, it has not yet been clarified what constitutes the core of both competencies and where in the brain their bases lie. Philipp Kanske, former MPI CBS research group leader and currently professor at the TU Dresden, together with Matthias Schurz from the Donders Institute in Nijmegen, Netherlands, and an international team of researchers, have now developed a comprehensive explanatory model.

“Both of these abilities are processed in the brain by a ‘main network’ specialised in empathy or changing perspective, which is activated in every social situation. But, depending on the situation, it also involves additional networks,” Kanske explains, referring to the results of the study, which has just been published in the journal Psychological Bulletin. If we read the thoughts and feelings of others, for example, from their eyes, other additional regions are involved than if we deduce them from their actions or from a narrative. “The brain is thus able to react very flexibly to individual requirements.”

For empathy, a main network that can recognise acutely significant situations, for example, by processing fear, works together with additional specialised regions, for example, for face or speech recognition. When changing perspective, in turn, the regions that are also used for remembering the past or fantasising about the future, i.e., for thoughts that deal with things that cannot be observed at the moment, are active as the core network. Here too, additional brain regions are switched on in each concrete situation.

Through their analyses, the researchers have also found out that particularly complex social problems require a combination of empathy and a change of perspective. People who are particularly competent socially seem to view the other person in both ways — on the basis of feelings and on the basis of thoughts. In their judgement, they then find the right balance between the two.

“Our analysis also shows, however, that a lack of one of the two social skills can also mean that not this skill as a whole is limited. It may be that only a certain factor is affected, such as understanding facial expressions or speech melody,” adds Kanske. A single test is therefore not sufficient to certify a person’s lack of social skills. Rather, there must be a series of tests to actually assess them as having little empathy, or as being unable to take the other person’s point of view.

The scientists have investigated these relationships by means of a large-scale meta-analysis. They identified, on the one hand, commonalities in the MRI pattern of the 188 individual studies examined when the participants used empathy or perspective taking. This allowed the localisation of the core regions in the brain for each of the two social skills. However, results also indicated how the MRI patterns differed depending on the specific task and, therefore, which additional brain regions were used.


Story Source:

Materials provided by Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Matthias Schurz, Joaquim Radua, Matthias G. Tholen, Lara Maliske, Daniel S. Margulies, Rogier B. Mars, Jerome Sallet, Philipp Kanske. Toward a hierarchical model of social cognition: A neuroimaging meta-analysis and integrative review of empathy and theory of mind.. Psychological Bulletin, 2020; DOI: 10.1037/bul0000303

Cite This Page:

Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences. “Empathy and perspective taking: How social skills are built.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 November 2020. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201110090427.htm>.

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