“An exchange of empathy provides an entry point for a lot of people to see what healing feels like.” — Tarana Burke
Welcome to Lemonada’s empathy news roundup, brought to you by Caring About Other People and Crying Through Insurance Commercials.
Why does Lemonada focus so much on empathy? Because our podcasts all have empathy at their core — from attempting to understand the circumstances that lead to a person’s last day of life to raising emotionally intelligent children who care for others. We believe there must be an empathy revolution in order to overcome the challenges presented by our increasingly detached, lightning-speed lives.
Empathy statements for lovers and others
Psychology Today gives us 44 empathy statements that will make you a better listener. While specifically a list for couples, many of these can be used in other contexts. I wouldn’t use “POOR BABY!” (an actual item on this list) with an employee, but you might try it on your closest barista friend who’s clearly having a bad day. Maybe?
While the goal, ultimately, is to deepen your relationships, these statements — “I understand how you feel,” “You must feel so helpless,” or “That would make me feel insecure” — can be a fake-it-til-you-make-it type deal if you’ve recently figured out that you’re not a great listener. (Or maybe you haven’t figured it out but want to give this a whirl anyway. Couldn’t hurt!) Try dropping some of these bad boys in the conversation the next time you’re listening to someone, see what happens, and report back. (Seriously. We can be found on all the social places or via email at email@example.com.)
Work is just nicer when women are in charge
Speaking of employees, there have been more opinion pieces lately about bringing empathy into the workplace. As more women are offered management and leadership positions, there’s a natural shift in leadership styles from what you’d call “masculine” to “feminine.” Forbes discussed empathy in leadership with Carla Hassan, Global Chief Brand Officer of Citi.
Oftentimes, women leaders face a “double bind” dilemma: If we lean into stereotypically “feminine” traits (like kindness), we’re often perceived as weak or ineffective. On the other side of that, if we take on more “masculine” traits, we come off as aggressive or unlikeable. In leading with empathy, Hassan has managed to successfully navigate that dilemma. “If you’re an empathetic leader,” she explains, “the reason why when you are authoritative people don’t dislike you, is because you’ve built credibility in being someone who understands how to get the best out of people and how to be collaborative and how to be kind. So when you do put your foot down on something, in my career, people take me a little bit more seriously.”
Do we even want empathy from robots? (Do we have a choice?)
Also trending in empathy news lately is a kind of terrifying debate about whether AI is ever going to get empathy right. Here’s a pretty wonky discussion at a tech conference with Merijn te Booij, a customer experience executive, that discusses how quickly AI is developing aspects of humanity, and how optimistic he is about the possibilities.
On the other hand, here is a more compelling argument that empathy can’t be automated easily. Because, you know, the whole humanity thing.
Sure, there are generative neural networks that can create new pictures, write new music, and edit together new film trailers. But not one of them knows what it is to be moved, or how to move someone.
Is empathy even empathy if it’s coming from a chatbot? Discuss amongst yourselves.