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.
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.
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On March 29, BTS shared a sincere, heartfelt message advocating for the hashtags #StopAsianHate and #StopAAPIHate. The empathetic message expresses grief and anger toward those who recently lost their loved ones as a result of hate crimes, and the BTS members also collectively shared their own experiences with racial discrimination, in a powerful statement of advocacy. Meanwhile, BTS will be releasing their newest Japanese single “Film Out” on April 2.
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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.
So how do we actively build empathy? Is there any way to actually increase our empathy, especially in our work? Absolutely!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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
The Splash | Issue 3: Empathy | By Turtl team.turtl.co – January 29[…] Business success depends on empathetic leaders who are able to adapt, build on the strengths around them, and relate to their environment […]2
threads threads-web.vercel.app – January 25��♀️ Leadership Change: Command and control no longer works – a change in leaderships style is needed Empathetic leaders are thriving. The importance of checking in on your team the most important skill0