Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Empathy is a tool, and tools are used to fix things. What does empathy fix?

Empathy is not the solution to all problems. It's not a master key or a bandage for all wounds or a fix-it tool that repairs all relationships and will bring about world peace. And yet

Empathy is clearly a motivator.

If you see the humanity in others who are suffering, then you are more likely to reach out and lend them a hand.

If you see that the person you disagree with as a reasonable, rational human being, then you will be motivated to find a solution that benefits both of you.

If you are hurting, perhaps practicing empathy will allow you to see the humanity in others. You will know, from your practice, that those around you have also been hurt. You will feel less alone. You may even be motivated to reach out to them for help.

Empathy will help me do my job better. If I have co-workers or employees, empathy is going to help me get along better with them, which makes for a better working environment, which makes for more productive employees and a better business model. If I am self-employed, empathy will help me to connect with my customers and perhaps see better ways to deliver my product or services.

Empathy is a tool that helps us overcome our internal obstacles. I may want to be kind others; and empathy helps motivate me to do it. I go back to my original thought of so long ago; it may be wrong for me to want to help one person who's standing in front of me, over thousands that really need help. But if I'm choosing between helping one and helping none - I choose to help one.

What drives you?