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Empathy in Business

The word empathy was big in the news last month in connection to Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings. Some of the Senators made it sound like a bad word!

The concept of emotional intelligence has been a generally accepted business value for many years, and now a new book is out called Wired to Care. I haven’t read this yet, but I like the author’s main idea, that when people in an organization “develop a shared vibe for what’s going on in the world, they’re able to see new opportunities faster than their competitors.” They have a cool tool called the EMPATH-O-METER, that allows you to suggest and rate the empathy level of an employer.

My clients consistently ask for people who are collaborative, who work well in teams, lead teams, etc., yet most people are “wired” to be individual contributors, and our survival instincts work only partly towards teamwork. Increasing the consciousness about empathy is a good thing, and so is the word itself.