This ability to listen to others – empathy – is a human value sometimes taken for granted.
Each person says is empathic, in his way, as if it was a natural gift, like a structural condition expected on the values scale. Every one of us knows how to listen, every one of us pays attention to others, every one of us is sensitive to people around us. Are we really sure of this? And yet, the real improvement margin of the human relationships, of organizations and enterprises towards the market is exactly the empathy. There is nothing more de-personalizing and alienating of not being understood by others; and if I should ask people if they feel understood by others, just a few would answer positively.
I can say this from my continuous daily experience on the present human resources, internally and outwardly the enterprises. What is empathy? Empathy is the human value to listen to the others in their own ideas, emotions, decisions, indecisions, doubts and fears, feelings and growth improvement desire.
It is “auscultare” for the Latin, which means to near the ear on the breast of fallen war soldiers in order to understand if they were alive or not; therefore, it means to enter people’s hearts, for the greeks is “en” (inside) and “pathos” (feeling), fundamental value for the “aedo” ( person who wandered the greek world to tell about gods and heroes, a modern story-teller) and its public, to create the relevant emotion for the common suggestion facing the myth.
I stopped on the word etymology to better understand how empathy is an emotional value, not structural (expected by human nature), we chose for the others. On the second hand, I want to make it clear that to “know how to listen the others” is not a passive value, but it is highly active and aware, dynamic, decisive and determined.
To give ourselves the reference of “emphatic” person means to have clear what we think, feel, decide and dream; consequently, we think we understand the others, too. It is not like that. In fact, we mistake empathy (i am along with the others) with false empathy (the others are along with me). False empathy is to pretend to be understood, not to understand; and, overall, it means to always ask for help and not to give help in order to be helped. The difference is relevant and it explains the present communicative problem. Nowadays society is full of people that speak without listening, therefore they create communication without value and unproductive improvement.
This is the problem we have inside the organizations. They lack of empathy because almost nobody knows that qualitative communication starts by actively listening, understanding the person in front and participating by dragging the person in front in our ideas, feelings, actions and results only in a second moment. It is about creating a wealthy exchange because it starts from “the opinion of who’s in front of me”, and not “from my opinion”, which is the insane seed of egocentrism.
Usually, we take part in organizations that do not listen to each other, therefore they do not create value or union towards a common intention able to lead to a real improvement because really collective.
If we think about the enterprise and market models, it becomes clear how a company unable to listen to itself will be, then, unable to listen to the market and exactly understand the real virtue of usefulness and uniqueness. It becomes impossible to transfer its own internal merit(ethics) to the market(aesthetics), so we live in constant uncertainty towards the effective strategic choices to adapt in order to realize our own challenging aim of maximum perspective, the vision.
Why does it happen? Why don’t we know to listen sincerely, but we expect to be listened by the others?
As I was saying at the beginning, I think it is because empathy is a thorny value, in the same way as courage, responsibility, development and ambition.
It is a virtue we should “give in abundance”, and note just expected from the others; we should remember that first there are the others – community and sociality – and then us. Empathy is not just “getting on well or having a good relationship”, these could be eventually some consequences. It is to demand the continuous improvement of the person by understanding him on his qualitative values scale and on his specific abilities useful to the productivity. It is this way that empathy flows into tolerance and does not slip into self-satisfaction.
Empathy remembers us that altruism is the greatest value that creates shared wealth, prosperity and social-economic perspective in our civilization; it is a stable fact that we are expected to build, in our area and individually, for the benefit of the community, for the good exchange of happiness and freedom.
Empathy: to give meaning, to act in order to give merit to the person I have in front of me and create a motivational comparison for the mutual development and demand a continuous shared improvement.
Let’s listen to improve.