A Little Empathy Goes A Long Way

Yesterday, I read an article on GOOD about empathy and neuroscience experiments that are hoping to shed more light on what (at least scientifically) is behind that human response.

“Most scientists describe empathy as the process of recognizing what someone else is feeling, then experiencing that same feeling and producing the appropriate emotional response. For example, if we see someone trip and fall, we recognize that they feel pain and embarrassment, and we help them up…cultivating everyday empathy can improve your love lifemake you a more effective leader at work, and help you develop more rewarding relationships.”

And, cue the Full House “lesson” music, I started thinking about what empathy looked like in my life, both personally and professionally. I really did – I promise.

I didn’t sit down to conduct a full analysis of my empathetic tendencies, but I couldn’t get it out of my head, and realized that I needed to extend a lot more of it to others in my career.

Our daily grinds can be grueling – packed with meetings, calls, racing the clock to meet deadlines and checking one more thing off of our to-do lists. There isn’t a lot of time to think about how your dismissal of a client’s idea, a curt remark to a coworker, or an impersonal email (that could have used a personal touch) affected someone else’s day. And while focus is a good thing, a lack of perspective is not.

Granted, some people and situations you come across in the 9 to 5 make it very difficult to show any empathy whatsoever. But we usually regret the moments where we exhibited a complete lack of tenderness, no matter who or what was involved.

The old “until you’ve walked in another man’s shoes” analogy is still kicking and still very true. I think I’ll post it on my bathroom mirror. That way, I’ll see it before I even have a chance to honk my horn in morning traffic.

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