When illness befell the Hume household, Jodi learned an important lesson about empathy, and how bad we can be at empathizing if we haven’t experienced something for ourselves. It turns out, empathy involves more than emotional intelligence.
Why is that important for business?
So often in business, we jump to conclusions about the motivations, experiences and decisions of others. Sometimes, this lack of empathy is a matter of needing to develop some emotional intelligence. But perhaps more often, it is simply a lack of knowledge or a need to ask more questions.
Lack of empathy is often a lack of curiosity.
We think we know what we are looking at and don’t take the time to do additional diagnostics. In the moment when you want to be frustrated with a behavior, there is power in being willing to ask a couple of questions.
In this way, empathy in general is more like a shared understanding as opposed to an emotional response. If you don’t understand why someone has a problem with something, maybe it’s because you don’t understand the problem enough.
This lack of empathy often lives in a blind spot and usually isn’t a conscious choice we make. It is important to pay attention when our inner dialogue is dismissive – and where we are making assumptions about other people – if we want to develop our ability to share understanding with other people.
Empathy Exams, by Leslie Jamison. http://www.lesliejamison.com/the-book/
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