Why Empathy Matters to Your Organization

Think empathy is a nebulous, New Age-y hard-to-apply concept? Awareness of others' perspectives allows organizations to develop much stronger solutions together.

practical empathyIn this excerpt from Indi Young’s book Practical Empathy: For Collaboration and Creativity in Your Work, she discusses empathy as a skill to be studied, developed, and mastered:

Here’s the situation: most organizations are out of balance, but they don’t know it. They do know that creative ideas are important. They know that strong collaboration forges better solutions and execution. But they still scramble to make both creativity and collaboration produce a more reliable return on investment in their product development and operations. No matter how many agencies and management consultants they hire, no matter how many promising experts they bring on board, things still don’t go as beautifully as they hoped.

You’re not being heard. You keep repeating what you know to be important, but nothing improves.

At a certain level, you know opportunities exist to enrich what you are creating and improve how people in the organization work together. But you’ve seen how reality gets messy and how your leaders don’t always make the decisions you’d hoped for. Improvements you’re trying to make for the good of other people aren’t happening. You hear similar stories from your peers, and it seems to all come down to one reason: You’re not being heard. You keep repeating what you know to be important, but nothing seems to improve.

A significant portion of this failure can be assigned to each person in the organization, from the very top of the hierarchy to the very bottom. Each person has, to one degree or another, a cloudy awareness of his own motivations and guiding principles. Each person has, in one way or another, failed to explore the deeper currents of reasoning in the people around him. Each person has spoken but failed to listen. It’s true that awareness of other people’s perspectives allows you to develop much stronger solutions together. Knowing someone’s perspective involves empathy. Empathy requires listening. It is empathy that will have a huge impact on how you work. It’s empathy that will bring balance to your business.

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