Finding echoes of another person in yourself

It’s hard out there. Really hard. We’ve just been through a pandemic, lockdowns, Brexit, wars across the world, and now a cost of living crisis that most of us haven’t seen since the 1980s. How do we trust that the world is a good place in the face of all this?

Life is not perfect, individuals will always be flawed, but empathy – the sheer inability to see those around them as anything other than people too – conquers all, in the end. – Children of Time, Adrian Tchaikovsky

This week is Empathy Week and I truly believe that empathy is a super-power. Empathy is not some touchy-feely HR concept that means we all need to go do trust falls. Empathy is the core of what makes us human and without it we are nothing.

  • How can you deliver your best work without understanding what your colleagues need to deliver theirs?
  • How can your team work effectively without trusting each other and you?
  • How can your organisation deliver great value without understanding the pain your customers go through?

The good news is that empathy can be learned. You don’t have to be born a Ted Lasso but you do have to put the work in.

  • “Be curious, not judgemental” – When someone expresses a different point of view, ask questions. Try to understand before trying to fix. Bracket your own thoughts until you’ve put yourself in their shoes.
  • Remember that a person’s lived experience is real to them – Don’t dismiss what someone is saying out of hand, but instead understand what they experience is real to them even if you don’t feel it.
  • Read fiction – We love reading about the next big technology, process, or management fad, but reading fiction is an immense machine for generating empathy. Read books by people who don’t look like you. People who don’t come from the same background as you. People who don’t have the same viewpoint as you. Learn about the lived experience of others.

None of us is an island and none of us can be truly great without the help of our communities.

How are you going to spend Empathy Week?