Empathy

Part four in a series of six posts on my experience with the high-concept, high-touch aptitudes presented in Dan Pink’s A Whole New Mind, that are needed to bring us into the new conceptual era.  Check the original post for background.

This one seems so obvious, right?  Surely we all possess this quality.  But do we really exercise it?  Do we surround ourselves with other empathetic souls?  When do we use empathy and why is it so useful?

For this post I’ve decided to share two quotes that Dan Pink includes in his chapter on empathy:

Leadership is about empathy. It is about having the ability to relate and to connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives.

Oprah Winfrey

People who learn on logic and philosophy and rational exposition end by starving the best part of the mind.

William Butler Yeats

One great thing about empathy is that its beauty is in non-verbal expression. It is multi-lingual and transcends cultural differences.  Empathy can be the deciding factor in establishing a friendship, in recognizing intuition.  It connects us to our humanity.  I was reminded in Portugal that we need a give-and-receive relationship with empathy.  Different contexts call for different degrees of empathy, and this was one situation where I actually had to seek out empathy from others to survive.  Surrounding myself with other people who could empathize with my situation actually helped me navigate through it.   I found solace and strength in conversations with other foreigners, in connecting with my American friends living abroad, in befriending Portuguese who had lived abroad, and in doing my part to share my experience with you so that you would have an opportunity to relate to me, to my experience.  I think it’s important we have a two-way relationship with empathy and know when to give as well as receive.

Now remember that Mr. Pink isn’t arguing to abandon all of those left-brained aptitudes and replace them with these right-brained ones.  He is a proponent of making more use of the right-brain ones, finding the balance,  and knowing how to pull on each part of the brain to make for that “Whole New Mind.” Based on the last two aptitudes, I’d say us ladies have a lot going for us in the new conceptual era.  Calling all symphony makers (multi-taskers) and empathy displayers (networkers and relationship builders)!  Women: embrace your god-given talents and start moving mountains!

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~ by maureenmoore on December 25, 2009.

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