A new year and a new virus variant? Being cynical and resigned is easy, and the empathy training is to drive out cynicism and resignation – then empathy naturally comes forth. If given half a chance. People want to be empathic. The prediction is that with a rigorous and critical empathy (and getting a very high percent of the population vaccinated), we are equal to the challenge.
A significant aspect of the interest in relating empathy and the reading of fiction is to make the world a better place. Read some quality fiction; expand one’s empathy; and take action to improve the world. Wouldn’t it be nice?
Follow the money – by all means – but don’t follow it off a cliff. Take a walk in the shoes of the other person in order to sell them another pair!?
Empathy is one of those things that are hard to delegate. This role shows up like another job responsibility with which the CEO of the organization is tasked—along with everything else that she already has to do. As if she did not already have enough alligators snapping at various parts of her anatomy, one has to be nice about it, too? But of course empathy is not niceness, though it is not about being un-nice. It is about knowing what others are experiencing, because one has a vicarious experience and then processing that further to expand boundaries and exercise leadership.
First, these recommendations are about getting back your power—or at least some of your power—in the face of bullying. Sometimes that looks like making a tactical retreat, much as one might dislike doing so, in order to reestablish boundaries and integrity. The idea is to de-escalate the potential confrontation. What de-escalation looks like is different according to the situation.
The paradox is the anti-social nature of social networking. The computer screen isolates the person even as the person is trying to connect. The contrary is also the case. The screen connects the person when the person wants to be alone, rudely announcing an incoming message by beeping, demanding one’s attention. Sometimes the screen brings out the anti-social tendencies instead of the pro-social ones, enabling one to be inauthentic, hiding behind a false self.
Since the bullying is a boundary violation, the way to reestablish empathy and order (where “order” means common courtesy) is to reestablish the boundary between persons.
The ontological definition of empathy as “being in the presence of another human being without anything else added” – anything else such as judgment, evaluation, memory, desire, hostility, and the many factors that make us unavailable to be in relationship. Though Gillian Isaacs Russell uses the word “empathy” in a specific psychological sense, I would argue that her work on “presence” is consistent with and contributes to an enlarged sense of empathic relatedness that builds community.
Professor Turkle, Sherry, launches a Jeremiad – remember the Prophet Jeremiah? – against buzzing, beeping, interrupting devices, which give us acquired attention deficit, and carries her concerns in the direction of online therapy. If empathy is being copresent with another person, where is the empathy online? Find out in the engaging conversation between Lou and Arnon about Sherry’s penetrating and incisive work!
that make organizations successful are not always the qualities that enhance their empathy. Hear me say it, and not for the last time: the things that make us good at business, including the corporate transformation of American medicine and education, do not always expand our empathy. What to do about it? The battle is joined. The recommendation? Let your customers, constituents, or stake-holders train you in empathy: Realize that if you do not respond empathically, the customers are just going to go quietly to the competitor that does. Empathy is good for business. If the customer has a complaint that he is having trouble expressing, then use one’s listening skills to get to the bottom of things.