Mr. Bartender and I got a chuckle at the announcement that the Jersey Shore Season 2 premiere was ranked the #1 cable telecast of 2010. Really?! Seriously?! Snooki (in or out of jail) and The Situation are now the standard for which we define entertainment?
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. It appears television is focused on redefining entertainment as watching the misery of others. Like we’ll feel better about ourselves and our life if we watch other people bicker, fight, and file for bankruptcy. Is it possible that we’ll become indifferent to misfortune because we can’t separate entertainment from reality?
It does make me wonder if this will spill over into our real-life work situations. Or maybe it already has.
Bloomberg Businessweek recently published an article citing research that American college students are not as empathic as they used to be. They imply that new media, computer games and the internet could be part of the reason. Also noted is the highly competitive environment we live in.
Developing empathy in ourselves and our employees is important. Empathy is a key component to delivering good customer service. It’s a critical part of emotional intelligence which links directly to leadership. If our future workforce is lacking empathy, how will they relate to customers and their fellow employees?
I believe there are three ways someone can develop a competency – hearing it, seeing it, or doing it. So if you or someone you know needs to work on their empathy skills, here are a few suggestions:
- One approach can be to listen for empathic statements in conversations. Especially with people you know and respect.
- Daniel Goleman, author of the widely successful book Emotional Intelligence, has done a lot of research on the subject of empathy. In fact, he claims there are three kinds of empathy – cognitive, emotional and compassionate. Check out his stuff.
- Lastly, it can be valuable to reflect upon occasions where empathy can be used (or should have been used) and practice how to respond in those situations.
If you want to truly establish a connection with another person, empathy is essential. We should constantly be refining our skills to ensure our ability to remain empathetic. I’m interested to hear where you think this is going. What do you think?
Is empathy on the decline?
Is social media at least partially to blame as Businessweek suggests?
How do you develop empathy in yourself and others?
Drop me your thoughts in the comments.
Image courtesy of royblumenthal