One of the more surprising items on the British political agenda this year was empathy.
This is largely thanks to Labour leader Ed Miliband, who has cited empathy as one of his core political values and has even recruited the help of empathy expert Professor Simon Baron Cohen to develop his “politics of empathy”.
It is too early to know whether Mr. Miliband’s initiative will bear fruit in the political domain. But it isn’t too early for the HR community to take note and consider the case for pushing empathy up its own agenda.
Our findings suggest that decades’ of prior research failed to reveal how empathy can turn into a liability for an executive—particularly when it’s not accompanied by other components of EQ. Empathy must be accompanied with other social-behavioral skills in order to be an asset.
Executive Insights The limits of empathy for executives
Too much empathy can be a liability for an executive— particularly if it’s not balanced out by other components of emotional intelligence. A Korn Ferry study of 2,000 C-level executives found that those who overemphasize empathy are among the least engaged leaders and at high risk of derailing.
The failure to understand one’s own emotions and to recognize their impact on others is a source of much personal and intra-personal conflict. In contrast, the understanding of one’s own emotions allows for self-regulation of disruptive emotions and impulses and helps in adapting to changing circumstances.
Empathy is a particularly important emotion in considering other people’s feelings especially when making decisions and is therefore a basic component of all helpful human relationships including effective, therapeutic interventions.
The best healthcare providers know this; yet empathy is often lacking in professional practice as frequently reported by patients.
Instead, the smartest teams were distinguished by three characteristics.
First, their members contributed more equally to the team’s discussions, rather than letting one or two people dominate the group.
Second, their members scored higher on a test called Reading the Mind in the Eyes, which measures how well people can read complex emotional states from images of faces with only the eyes visible.
Finally, teams with more women outperformed teams with more men. Indeed, it appeared that it was not “diversity” (having equal numbers of men and women) that mattered for a team’s intelligence, but simply having more women. This last effect, however, was partly explained by the fact that women, on average, were better at “mindreading” than men.
We sympathize with the students who say they are being forced to “choose sides,” when they insist they want to be both pro-Israel AND pro-Palestinian, but there is little space for them on campus. These students have a capacity for empathy. ..
Zealots on both sides dismiss empathy, because each says the other doesn’t deserve it. South African Apartheid leaders were human too, and no responsible person should express empathy for them, so how can one have empathy for similar folk today—those who are seen as responsible for Palestinian or Jewish suffering?
On your next trip, don’t forget to pack your empathy.
The practice of empathy — and yes, it’s a practice — is about open-ness, creating an opening in one’s self to another. Empathy requires suspending your judgment of others and leaving your assumptions, stereotypes and fears at the door...
Sold on the concept of empathy? Now onto how practicing empathy can enhance your travel experiences.
1) Opens Others... 2) Allows New Experiences to Stream In... 3) Expands Our Range of Understanding... 4) Builds Trust to Yield Greater Authenticity... 5) Assists Immersion and Creativity... 6) Aids Conflict Resolution... 7) Fosters Good, Pleasurable and Positive Feeling... 8) Aids Understanding Others’ Needs So You Can Effectively Contribute...
From Boko Haram to Raif Badawi to Charlie Hebdo, the media influences how much we care
As massive support rallies took place around the world, and an overwhelming number of people replaced their social media profile pictures with the eponymous Je suis Charlieimage, many of us struggled to understand why the Western world cares so much when an attack strikes Paris, or New York City, yet we seem unable to muster up the same grief and outrage when horror strikes in other parts of the world...
A condition common among individuals that work directly with trauma victims such as nurses, psychologists, and first responders, sufferers of compassion fatigue exhibit hopelessness, cynicism, a constant negative attitude, and eventually a lessened ability to feel empathy.
by Lieutenant Colonel Harry C. Garner, U.S. Army, Retired
The article discusses empathy and why it is an important leadership characteristic that builds relationships of trust between superiors and subordinates, in the military and elsewhere. Relevant concepts in personal and professional development from writers such as
Gareth R. Mitchell,
Steven Covey are discussed.
A True Leader Skill http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/cgsc/repository/dcl_GarnerArticle.pdf To lead successfully, a person must demonstrate two active, essential, interrelated traits: expertise and empathy. In my experience, both of these traits can be deliberately and systematically cultivated; this personal development is the first important building block of leadership. —William G. Pagonis, Leadership in a Combat Zone
IN HIS CLASSIC 1991 Harvard Business Review article, “Leadership in a Combat Zone,” Lieutenant General Gus Pagonis outlines a path to effective leadership by focusing on the development of two fundamental leadership traits: expertise and empathy. There is little disagreement among military professionals that leaders must be proficient at systems management. But what about empathy? How did empathy, a word that conjures preconceptions of excessive sensitivity and interpersonal emotional connectivity, become a building block of leadership?
Related to Servant Leadership is the subject of Empathy - the capacity to recognise emotions that are being experienced by others. This month, I would like to share an article by LTC (Ret) Harry C. Garner titled, “Empathy – A True Leader Skill”. In the article, LTC (Ret) Garner shared that leaders who harness the power of real empathy will foster better communications, tighter cohesion, stronger discipline, and greater morale in their units.
Every secular expert that I've heard speak on the subject has said that, rather than dictates from God, what really drives moral behavior is empathy.
I can imagine or remember what it would feel like to go through something negative, and I therefore would not want to inflict this onto another.
The supposed logical extension is that people who act immorally simply have a broken empathy engine.
Do I understand this correctly? If I do, I still don't understand how putting myself in someone's shoes would make me not want to wrong them. I do not want to be stolen from. I know what it feels like to be stolen from. I don't understand how this makes me want to not steal from others.
Much of the disaffection with the school system stems from a pervasive feeling that the intense focus on formal academics has inadvertently neglected the rest of a child’s personality and humanity.
While employers, psychologists and other researchers have repeatedly noted that social and emotional skills like empathy are some of the most important ones for success, many schools still lag in developing effective programs to nurture those soft skills.
Societal norms posit girls as being more emotionally intelligent than boys, but the subtle ways that teachers and parents reinforce that gender stereotype can harm boys, who need to learn empathy as an important life skill for connecting with others, problem-solving and developing moral courage.
*Yaaawwwwwn* Did just reading the word make you feel like yawning yourself? Known as contagious yawning, the reasons behind this phenomenon have been attributed to both the physiological and psychological.
It's been observed in children as young as four and even in dogs! Claudia Aguirre visits the many intriguing theories that might explain contagious yawning.
One theory for yawning contagion is that it's caused by mirror neurons and empathy. When we see someone yawn, our mirror neurons fire and we start simulating the other persons yawn in our selves and it grows into full blown emotional contagion. For this reason yawning contagion is a test for empathy in humans, dogs, chimps, etc. Test this out.. see the links below.
"I sometimes call virtual reality an empathy generator," she says. "It's astonishing to me. People all of a sudden connect to the characters in a way that they don't when they've read about it in the newspaper or watched it on TV."
the Army leader to build high-performing and cohesive organizations able to effectively project and support landpower. It also creates positive organizational climates, allowing for individual and team learning, and empathy for all team members, Soldiers, civilians, and their families.
2-15. Three major factors determine a leader’s character: values, empathy, and the Warrior Ethos. Some characteristics are present at the beginning of the leader’s career, while others develop over time through additional education, training, and experience.
4-4. Character is essential to successful leadership. It determines who people are and how they act. It helps determine right from wrong and choose what is right. The factors, internal and central to a leader, which make up the leader’s core are—
4-42. Army leaders show a propensity to share experiences with the members of their organization. When planning and deciding, try to envision the impact on Soldiers and other subordinates. The ability to see something from another person’s point of view, to identify with and enter into another person’s feelings and emotions, enables the Army leader to better care for civilians, Soldiers, and their families.
4-43. Competent and empathetic leaders take care of Soldiers by giving them the training, equipment, and all the support they need to keep them alive in combat and accomplish the mission. During wartime and difficult operations, empathetic Army leaders share the hardships with their people to gauge if their plans and decisions are realistic. Competent and empathetic leaders also recognize the need to provide Soldiers and civilians with reasonable comforts and rest periods to maintain good morale and mission effectiveness. When a unit or organization suffers injuries or death, empathetic Army leaders can help ease the trauma and suffering in the organization to restore full readiness as quickly as possible.
4-44. Modern Army leaders recognize that empathy also includes nourishing a close relationship between the Army and Army families. To build a strong and ready force, Army leaders at all levels promote self sufficient and healthy families. Empathy for families includes allowing Soldiers recovery time from difficult missions, protecting leave periods, permitting critical appointments, as well as supporting events that allow information exchange and family teambuilding.
4-45. The requirement for leader empathy extends beyond civilians, Soldiers, and their families. Within the larger operational environment, leader empathy may be helpful when dealing with local populations and prisoners of war. Providing the local population within an area of operations with the necessities of life often turns an initially hostile disposition into one of cooperation.
B-35. To improve leader counseling skills, follow these general guidelines:
Today’s mainstream economic models are based on two fundamental assumptions: first, humans are essentially selfish actors who act rationally to advance their own utility – so-called homo economicus; but, second, as Adam Smith’s metaphor of an “invisible hand” was intended to suggest, self-regarding behavior can inadvertently advance the common good. Both assumptions are patently false.
It is important, however, to distinguish between basic empathic responses and a more universal capacity for compassion. Empathy alone does not necessarily prompt pro-social behavior; empathizing with the suffering of another may not drive you to help that person. In fact, empathy can result in distress, which may even lead to withdrawal or burnout...
Both empathy and compassion seem to come naturally to humans. But both responses are fragile, and can be quelled or reversed by a large number of factors – including the degree to which we identify with the person who is suffering.
The ability to express empathy – the capacity to share and feel another’s emotions – is limited by the stress of being around strangers, according to a new study published recently in the journal Current Biology.
“President Barack Obama has described an ‘empathy deficit’ that fuels misunderstanding, divisions, and conflict. This research identifies a reason for the empathy gap and answers the vital question of how do we create empathy between strangers,” said psychology professor Jeffrey Mogil, senior author of the study.
“In this case, creating empathy was as simple as spending 15 minutes together playing the video game Rock Band®.”
Intranasal administration of oxytocin twice daily for 1 week was safe and well tolerated and showed preliminary signs of improvement in symptoms of apathy and loss of empathy in patients with frontotemporal dementia, according to a new study.
The study, published in the January 13 issue of Neurology, was led by Elizabeth C. Finger, MD, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
Dr. Finger explained to Medscape Medical News that frontotemporal dementia is the second most common cause of presenile dementia. "It typically starts in the 50s or 60s and appears to have a different pathology to Alzheimer's, with loss of empathy being the hallmark symptom in the most common subtype — known as behavioral variant."
Whether you’re running a company or feeding, clothing, and equipping an army, the bedrock principles of leadership don’t change: Know your stuff and listen hard, and your troops will fight like lions for you.
Expertise and Empathy
...Owning the facts is a prerequisite to leadership. But there are millions of technocrats out there with lots of facts in their quivers and little leadership potential. In many cases, what they are missing is empathy. No one is a leader who can’t put himself or herself in the other person’s shoes. Empathy and expertise command respect.
...I could perpetuate the cycle or I could act in the spirit of empathy, based on my vivid recollection of what it felt like to get knocked around.
Empathy was an absolutely vital quality in the context of the Gulf War. We asked ourselves constantly: What do the other people on our team need? Why do they think they need it, and how can we give it to them?
Back in the 1950’s Carl Rogers identified three characteristics that psychotherapists should possess: warmth, genuineness, and empathy. Considerable research supported Rogers’ idea.
Regardless of the therapeutic orientation of the therapist, these three variables facilitated clients making positive changes. Building a positive relationship with the client has been viewed as an important part of effective psychotherapy. Over time, this concept has been included in, and adapted for, a variety of therapeutic approaches....
How can leaders be more effective?
By listening to staff. When a leader seeks input from various levels within an organization, this helps staff feel valued.
By reflecting back to staff what has been said.
By using positive communication whenever possible. By acknowledging individual and group accomplishments, a leader builds a “positive balance” in the “emotional bank account” of staff, thus helping everyone feel more invested in the organization.