Empathy is all the rage!
We have to show empathy towards each other, towards animals, towards plants, towards ourselves and as practitioners and managers we should be more empathetic.
No, you shouldn't.
The way we're able to feel empathy is by making our brains 'walk a mile in someone else's shoes' (which some people get all up in arms over that we can't anyway) but what happens when we try to feel what someone else is feeling or experience what someone else is experiencing is we connect with the pain centre of our brains. We recall feelings of pain, whether that be sadness, or shame, or anger, and we recognise the plea of someone else.
Not only does high empathy mean that you're constantly connecting your brain to pain, but it also means you'll make bad decisions based on emotions over logic.
Empathy can also lead to fatigue, burnout and depression.
Am I telling you to not be empathic?
I'm also advocating for you to become more compassionate.
Compassion can be a hard feeling to define but it isn't linked to pain. Rather it's linked to hope and happiness. There is still a sprinkle of empathy involved but that empathy is transformed into action, into options, into solutions, into moving forward - looking at what's possible rather than what's wrong. It is more inclusive and doesn't single someone out (which is the danger of empathy, as shown in an experiment around donor donation and children). Compassion is kindness and understanding but wrapped in logic and not emotional overload.
Don't believe me, try reading Against Empathy by Paul Bloom,
Your life, your choice.
This is a daily, micro-blog, taking less than 2 minutes to read, offering you insights into how presumptions, beliefs and stories shape our lives and worldview, for better or worse.