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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This image captured from the official Twitter account of BTS shows the band’s message against racial discrimination, posted on Tuesday […] Hate” movement, triggered by the recent deadly shootings in Atlanta, K-pop boy band BTS condemned racial discrimination and violence in a resolute Twitter message Tuesday […] Using the hashtags, #StopAsianHate and #StopAAPIHate, BTS shared their own experiences of racial discrimination and said they will stand together against any such violence […]
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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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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.”
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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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.
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
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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Workingmums.co.uk hosted two employer workshops on how empathy can be used to create a more engaged, productive workforce in November led by Oliver Hansard and Joss Mathieson from Catalyst Thinking Partners.
Opening the first workshop, Hansard said that, in a world where we are in control of so little that is going on, empathy is a key skill. It is no use having technical ability without having the skills to unlock people’s potential, he stated. He argued that empathy is generative rather than passive, meaning that it guides people’s actions.
Mathieson said Covid has shown the importance of engagement and regular communication and added that empathy is crucial for dealing with a culture of change. If change is handled badly and with a lack of empathy, it can knock people sideways for months, he said. People’s attitude to change is deeply personal, he added, so we need to understand what it means to individuals to ensure people are able to deal with it effectively.
Hansard and Mathieson asked what people understood by the term empathy. Empathy is not only about understanding another person’s perspective, but it guides what actions should be taken and what support might be required. In volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous times we also need VUCA leadership is required, said Hansard and Mathieson, that is, leadership focused on being Valiant, Understanding, Compassionate and Authentic:
– Valiance is about not being afraid to show that you don’t know everything, to ask what others think and to do the right thing; – Understanding is about understanding how others feel; – Compassion is about being consistently thoughtful, even in challenging circumstances; – Authenticity is about being genuine and honest and not being afraid to show vulnerability, for instance, to talk about what it is really like living through this pandemic.
Hansard and Mathieson pointed out that there is often a discrepancy between how empathetic CEOs think they and their company are versus what employees perceive. A recent workplace empathy survey from Businesssolver showed, for instance, that 68% of CEOs think their companies are empathetic, compared to 48% of employees, and that 76% of employees think empathy leads to greater productivity compared to 52% of CEOs. Moreover, 70% of employees think greater empathy results in lower staff turnover, compared to just 40% of CEOs.
In their Empathy Manifesto, Hansard and Mathieson have called for a cultural shift around empathy and referred to how Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, had put empathy at the core of innovation to understand the different needs of customers and appreciate different perspectives. Microsoft has shifted from a ‘know it all’ culture to ‘learn it all’ as a result.
As a framework, Hansard and Mathieson outlined their Empathy Compass which has empathy at the centre, surrounded by self, team, organisation and customer. They said empathy for yourself is your “North Star”. By understanding how you are feeling, you can be more empathetic to others and more resilient. They emphasised the importance of finding time for yourself amid family and work demands.
In a team setting, empathy involves listening to others and being prepared to act on what they say, being honest rather than hiding bad news and taking the group with you. It can involve ensuring people take time out regularly to care for others in the team, testing things out and listening to feedback.
When it comes to customers, empathy is about listening to their needs and adjusting products or services accordingly, whether they are internal or external clients. It is an opportunity to show you care and value customers and it drives loyalty.
There are two dimensions to organisational empathy – top down empathy demonstrated by senior managers and bottom up empathy that builds from the sum of other acts of empathy – teams, customers and self.
Hansard and Mathieson discussed how to attract and hire empathetic candidates and said it is about having the right behavioural frameworks and asking candidates at interview about what they think empathy is and requesting that they give examples of how they have demonstrated this. Also, they can be asked about their personal values and the employer can assess the cultural fit against their organisational values, if they have been clearly defined.
Participants then discussed examples of empathetic leadership in their own organisations, including weekly videos from CEOs about the need for everyone to take care of themselves; leaders who are mental health first aiders; role models and influencers who generate empathy; leader drop-in sessions; leaders who give people permission to take time out; a focus on domestic abuse; employee audits that ensure employers know about the different problems affecting different groups; treating employees like consumers; and a focus on adaptability to change and on how an empathetic culture supports this.
Mathieson said it is important to be aware that different cultural contexts need to be taken into account and that a different empathetic approach may be needed for different stages of the pandemic. Hansard said listening needs to become an organisational habit as does demonstrating that what is being said is being taken on board. Mathieson said employers need to listen more than they talk.
In the second workshop, participants explored empathetic listening or what one participant called “listening hard”. They focused on the reciprocal empathetic relationship between employer and employee and the importance of creating an environment of trust where employees feel they can be open and honest and that what they say will be acted upon. There was also a discussion on how an empathetic culture could boost understanding of customer needs and help deliver better services. Better listening can sometimes be enough to push things forward in itself if people feel they are being heard.
Hansard said there are three types of empathy: cognitive empathy or empathy by thought – the ability to see another’s perspective; emotional empathy – the ability to feel another’s emotions; and generative empathy – which generates empathy in others and leads to action, if not by the listener then by others. Receiving and witnessing empathy has a profound impact and generates empathy for others.
They outlined their ACORN method of generative empathy which is based on:
Attention – listening with full attention and not imposing your own perspective;
Curiosity – exploring what the other person is thinking or feeling and checking that you have heard and understood correctly;
Observation – noticing all signals, including body language and emotions
Reflection – being a mirror and testing what people are saying, for instance, stating: ‘I think what you are saying is…’ This can be helpful even if you get it wrong as it might make the person think about the issue in a different way if done well; and
Next steps – working together to identify action for you and for them.
Participants then took part in an empathy breakout session to try the ACORN method for themselves, working in trios where one person shared a challenge or problem, one person listened to another and another observed.
Reflecting afterwards, some participants described the difficulty of letting go of the feeling that they needed to find a solution to people’s problems rather than just reflect them back and find a supportive way forward. Mathieson said intentional listening has to be practised regularly and developed “as a muscle”. This is particularly important for building resilient organisations, promoting inclusion and helping people to navigate agility and change.
Hansard and Mathieson have developed a six-month empathy training programme for leaders which shows significant boosts in leaders’ ability to listen and teams’ ability to behave empathetically as well as increased trust. The leaders who have taken part say it is transformative, helping teams feel more connected and able to be more honest and open.
If you would like to know more about the Empathy Manifesto and the work Hansard and Mathieson do, please contact them on firstname.lastname@example.org/ www.hansardcoaching.com and email@example.com/www.changeoasis.com.
Both capitalists and anti-capitalists frequently accuse capitalism of being a system driven by selfishness and greed. Capitalism’s defenders sometimes say: “By nature, man is selfish, which is why socialism will never work. Capitalism better reflects the fundamental characteristics of human nature.” Anti-capitalists claim that capitalism promotes the worst characteristics in man, especially greed.
But are greed and unbridled selfishness really the driving forces of capitalism? Human self-interest is one—not the only—driving force of all human action. But this has nothing to do with a particular economic system. Rather, it is an anthropological constant. In capitalism, however, this self-interest is curbed by the fact that only the entrepreneur who prioritizes other people’s needs can be successful.
Successful Entrepreneurs Are Empathetic
There is overwhelming evidence to suggest that empathy, rather than greed, is the true driving force of capitalism. Empathy is the ability to recognize and understand another person’s feelings and motives, and this is the most important characteristic of successful entrepreneurs.
Take Steve Jobs as an example. He came up with the iPhone and other products because he understood modern consumers’ needs and desires better than anyone else. Under capitalism, consumers can (and do) punish companies that behave selfishly and lose sight of the needs of their customers.
The same applies to Mark Zuckerberg, today one of the world’s richest people. He created Facebook because he knew better than other entrepreneurs what people wanted. Like all successful entrepreneurs, it was consumers who made Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg so rich.For many years, the Albrecht brothers were the richest people in Germany. They earned their fortunes from the food discounter Aldi, which was founded on the principle of offering good quality products at very reasonable prices. This was the same recipe for success followed by Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, who was consistently one of the richest people in the United States.
Consumers’ purchasing decisions confirm that Jobs, Zuckerberg, the Albrecht brothers, and Sam Walton had correctly understood their customers’ desires, needs, and emotions.
The Market Punishes Self-Centered Entrepreneurs
Of course, under the capitalist system, there are also examples of companies that have acted selfishly and lost sight of the wants and needs of consumers.
One example is Deutsche Bank, which has faced thousands of lawsuits. Such companies are punished under capitalism, not only by the law but far more so by the market. Deutsche Bank lost its position as one of the world’s leading banks because it put the interests of its investment bankers above those of its customers and shareholders.
Even companies that appear omnipotent today, such as Google or Facebook, will not retain their power forever.
A company’s most important asset is its image, and companies that behave like Deutsche Bank end up incurring massive damage to their images and reputations; their customers lose confidence and flock to their competitors.
In socialist systems, on the other hand, consumers are powerless and at the mercy of state-owned companies. If a state enterprise acts with no regard for the needs of consumers, they have no alternative under socialism because there is no competition.
Under capitalism, consumers can (and do) punish companies that behave selfishly and lose sight of the needs of their customers. Every day, customers vote on the company with their wallets—by buying its products or not.
What About Monopolies?
Monopolies under capitalism are a temporary phenomenon. Even companies that appear omnipotent will eventually be ousted by new competitors as soon as they overreach their power and lose sight of their customers’ needs.
Ever since capitalism has existed, anti-capitalists have criticized the system’s inherent tendency to create monopolies. Lenin wrote over 100 years ago that imperialism and monopoly capitalism are the last stages of capitalism. But the monopolies he criticized at the time no longer exist. Even companies that appear omnipotent today, such as Google or Facebook, will not retain their power forever. Other companies and ambitious young entrepreneurs will seize the opportunity as soon as Google or Facebook starts to act too selfishly.
What is strange is that socialists who criticize capitalism for its tendency to form monopolies are in favor of state-owned companies. After all, the state is the most powerful monopolist of all, with the ability to brutally trample on the needs and wishes of its citizens through its means of coercion and because there are no alternatives for the customer.
The fact that people and companies pursue their own interests is the same in every society. This is not a specific feature of capitalism.
Under capitalism, though, only those entrepreneurs and companies who prioritize their customers’ interests rather than their own self-interest will achieve success in the long-term. Companies that fail to understand and respect what consumers want will lose market share and may even disappear entirely as they are driven out by other companies that better meet their customers’ needs.
Empathy, the ability to recognize the desires and needs of others, is the true basis of capitalism—not unbridled greed and selfishness.
Dr. Rainer Zitelmann is a historian and sociologist. He is also a world-renowned author, successful businessman and real estate investor. His most recent book, The Power of Capitalism, was released in 2019.
Workplace diversity creates a business better suited to meet its goals. Through Eudaimonia and acceptance of differences, empathy is a path to business success. Matthew Gonnering is the CEO of Widen, a marketing technology company founded in 1948. Blessed to work with highly intelligent, playful, self-starting Wideneers, Matthew has reshaped his role into “Chief Eudaimonia Officer.” His mission is to create happiness, health and prosperity for his colleagues, customers and community. Matthew joined Widen in 2000 and became CEO in 2009. His team solves marketing and creative problems with digital asset management (DAM) software. Under Matthew’s leadership, Widen has become a WorldBlu Freedom-Centered Workplace™ and a Madison Magazine Best Place to Work. His ongoing commitment to faith, family, education, and nonprofit work shape his desire to ground organizational culture in humanity. Matthew and his beautiful wife Sarah have five energetic children and reside in the Madison area. He lives a eudaimonious life and encourages others to do the same. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx