By Victoria Trafton
We read exciting news about the accomplishments of technology solving the biggest problems we have as humans. We rarely read about how empathy has been a competitive edge for business. But some experts are saying empathy is the most valued skill of the future workplace!
WARNING: statements in this article are broad generalizations and not intended as gender stereotypes or to criticize men! To my male readers, there is something for you by the end so please keep reading.
Advancing technology is solving problems we never dreamed possible. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Technology) is being emphasized in education to encourage students to fuel the job market of tomorrow.
As technology takes over more and more complex functions such as driving a car and doing surgery, what does the future look like for luddites?
Computers can take over most tasks involving left-brain thinking skills. But they can’t figure out how to use computers effectively for social interaction! That’s uniquely human and that’s what is valuable in every area of life.
Corporations have begun stressing emotional intelligence in the search for new hires, especially in leaders. Interview candidates are questioned to determine culture sensitivity as well as the normal “doing the job” skills, and those “culture” skills do not come along with a college degree.
Studies show women excel at sales based on their natural empathy and ability to build relationships. I’ve seen women are generally better networkers over time than men. They have the patience and passion for building and maintaining their network of relationships.
Would you believe …as technology changes our economy, the valued skill of the 21st century is empathy! That’s good news for women…. that’s our strength!
Makes sense, computers can’t be empathetic. Computers can’t build relationships and that’s what is required in business today.
More choices available to the consumer means more truth to the age-old statement: “people do business with people they know, like and trust.” You might trust your computer to store tons of data, compute correct answers and enable you to communicate with the masses in seconds. But do you trust your computer to understand your needs and know what’s right for you?
Women are so emotional….I’m sure you have heard it. The neurological and physiological differences that make us more emotional than men also give us the gift of empathy. It’s natural for us! Makes the female tendency to worry, doubt and fear worth the price when empathy is the reward.
Empathy can’t be easily taught, but it can be appreciated …and perhaps developed. Empathy is defined as the ability to feel another’s feelings. Not so easy for someone who is not comfortable with emotions.
Marketing Guru and author Seth Godin comments on Empathy:
“Empathy doesn’t involve feeling sorry for someone. It is our honest answer to the question, “why did they do what they did?”
Perhaps learning to ask questions to understand why someone did something will be sufficient when empathy is missing. Questioning is certainly a much better approach than making assumptions and judgments.
However you look at it, cultivating empathy can’t be a waste of time. A study measuring 14,000 college students for empathy since 1979 found a decline. Researchers also suggest empathy declines with age.
All the more reason to find ways to develop, practice, and protect empathy. It can’t hurt and will most definitely be appreciated by your loved ones who appreciate being understood.
Next time someone tells you “don’t be so emotional”….. tell them emotions are an investment in the future. That will make them stop and think!