Building Empathy on the Road to Innovation (and a Better World)
Posted by Plish on October 5, 2012
While the woman on the table braced herself for the extremely invasive transvaginal ultrasound, the technician tried to calm her:
“You know, when I was in school, they had us go through this exact same procedure so that we can understand what you’re feeling while you’re going through this.”
The woman smiled slightly, relaxed, and thought to herself, “At least this won’t be as bad as it could be…”
And it wasn’t…
Empathy goes a long way towards impacting how we behave with others, how we design products and services for others. Sometimes, as with the ultrasound technician, a shared experience forms the empathic response. However, we can likewise gain empathy by observing how others respond to certain situations – by reading people: looking at their faces, listening to their voices, watching how they fidget or stand still.
While responding to others’ expressions is somewhat ‘automatic’, the accuracy of our empathic responses can actually be improved.
Researchers at Emory University have developed a meditation protocol (Cognitively-Based Compassion Training, or CBCT) that trains people to be more effective in reading what others are feeling.
Study Co-author, Lobsang Tenzin Negi, director of the Emory-Tibet Partnership, had this to say:
“CBCT aims to condition one’s mind to recognize how we are all inter-dependent, and that everybody desires to be happy and free from suffering at a deep level.”
Build empathy and build a better world.
Sounds like mandatory training, not just for innovators, but for all humans…