Empathy and a 6th Grade Perspective

One of my colleagues recently shared a story with me about empathy.

He went to his son’s 6th grade class to speak on career day. He said even though he has spoken in front of hundreds of people, he was particularly anxious about speaking in front of 6th graders. He asked the teacher when he arrived, “What should I talk about?” She said, “Talk about something that you’re currently teaching; talk about something you feel would be important for the kids.”

He had recently helped his son learn about empathy and he thought this may be a great topic to teach. He asked the class, “Tell me what you think the definition of empathy is.”

He wasn’t sure anyone would contribute in class, but after a few moments, this little girl in the back raised her hand. He called on her and she said, “Well, I think empathy is to see through the eyes of another, to hear through the ears of another and to feel through the heart of another.” After my friend picked himself up off the floor, he asked her, “Are you running for president? Because that was the best definition ever!”

I love that story and use the "6th grader definition" every chance I can.

Even though a child can see the value in using empathy, it's compelling how little it is used by adults as a means of building trust. I continue to talk about elevating conscious-minded practices in business, and empathy is a way to up the game.

According to Harvard Business Review the stats reveal the truth:

  • The top 10 companies in the Global Empathy Index 2015 increased in value more than twice as much as the bottom 10 and generated 50% more earnings (defined by market capitalization). In our work with clients, we have found a correlation as high as 80% between departments with higher empathy and those with high performers.

  • Less than half of US employees rate their organizations as empathetic, yet 85% believe empathy is highly undervalued by businesses.

  • 98% of the HR professionals and 92% of employees said empathy drives retention.

The question remains, can you learn how to be more empathetic? The answer, lucky for you, yes you can! Empathy is a behavior that can be learned by those looking to add more compassion into their day to day. 

How do you do that? Check out my video Empathetic Assertion: The AEP Model.


 How can we serve you? Jacqueline Jasionowski is the founder of Shift Awake Group. Her "soul" mission is to help others connect with their purpose through a higher level of consciousness that will both drive results and enable innovation along the way. Please contact 614.403.6540 for info.


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