Punk Rock HR Episode 124:
Today’s guest is author and podcaster Mimi Nicklin. She is the author of Softening the Edge, a book all about empathy and how humanity’s oldest leadership trait is changing our world. Mimi believes that the ability to connect authentically with others has the power to shape not only our business environments but every part of our lives.
Michelle Obama recently gave a speech and said that there is an empathy deficit among many people in power in our country. I feel that truth in my bones. Empathy is something so primal, yet so hard to achieve. Mimi’s big ideas drive the conversation around empathy into the world, which is why I brought her onto the show today.
In this episode, Mimi and I talk about empathy. We discuss what it is, what it isn’t, and how you actually put empathy into practice at work. If you wonder how seeing someone’s perspective can help you be a better leader, listen in to this conversation with Mimi.
In this episode you’ll hear:
- A simple definition of empathy.
- How to overcome the empathy deficit in our world.
- Where to go to add more empathy into the world.
- What it would look like to implement empathy training in an organization.
- Why listening is so important.
- How to balance the need for speed with the need to be seen and heard.
- How to control your microcosms to create a ripple effect in your company’s culture.
- Why Mimi is passionate about empathy.
WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE FOR ME TO IMPLEMENT EMPATHY TRAINING INTO MY ORGANIZATION?
Empathy training is something that’s quite new and growing in demand. One of the key parts of empathy training is listening. Listening is one of the most undervalued skill sets in the workplace. We must start moving our teams towards understanding what listening is, how to use active listening, and how to hear people not just in a way that allows us to formulate a response, but in a way that truly seeks to understand the other person. This will build a level of connectivity between our people which is a great step in the right direction.
WHY IS LISTENING SO IMPORTANT?
One of our highest orders as human beings is to be seen and heard. If you look at infants, even from a very young age they have that need to be recognized. Listening represents the human need to be able to reflect ourselves in the faces of others and know that we are understood. It’s how we recognize that we exist. If we could learn to lean in, make eye contact, hear people when they talk to us, and repeat what they said back to them, we would notice entire changes in the way people communicate and the amount of information people give us. Even if someone’s conscious mind hasn’t noticed that we aren’t listening, his or her subconscious has, and that changes how he or she behaves.
MY COMPANY DOESN’T OPERATE ON EMPATHY AND HAS A NON-STOP CULTURE. HOW DO I DEMONSTRATE EMPATHY AND MAKE A CHANGE HERE?
This is a decision that’s in your control. Yes, you can’t control your corporate culture and you can’t necessarily change your office hours, but as a human being, you can control the relationships you build in your microcosms. You have the opportunity to impact the people around you. Empathy is contagious and it does ripple. You can turn around all kinds of environments, scenarios, and people by turning on your empathy and by practicing and honing that skill. When entering a high-stress environment, just persevere in empathy. Lean in, improve your eye contact, and smile. When you do, you will see that people come with you. Even if you’re making small wins and increasing empathy in a small microcosm, you will begin to make a change. Eventually, if you can lead with empathy and encourage that in others, you will impact many more people than just your small team.
Resources from this episode: