Over the years we’ve come to realise the importance of empathy. It is critical in our interactions with our friends and families, but also in our jobs – whether leading teams or interacting with customers. And yes, I include ‘those we seek to serve’ in the customer bucket for this post. Empathy is a known skill or characteristic for success. Simon Sinek says in well in the video below:
And yet, how often do we ask someone ‘how did you become so empathetic?’ Or in an interview do we ask or have we been asked ‘Tell me about a time when you were empathetic.’
This is unfortunate. We have speech classes, writing classes, workshops and executive education on all kinds of topics, but not on empathy. Empathy is a critical skill, yet tricky to teach and even trickier to test. And perhaps therein lies the challenge – if we can’t test for it, it must not be a skill.
And yet, just like anything we are ‘good’ at, empathy can be learned. Learned through deliberate practice and much repetition. Yes, we will suck at it in the beginning. This is the case with learning anything. But we will get better through trying again, and again, and again, and again. The 1% rule is useful here again.
If we want to live and work in a more empathetic world, we can become more empathetic ourselves and ask those we hire to do the same.
The choice is up to us.