Different Perspectives

2. Empathy helps open your mind.

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft says that empathy does far more than just motivating you to volunteer or donate, (as an example) as it primarily opens your mind up to think more about other people’s perspectives.

This is my next piece on an article about Satya Nadella’s thoughts on empathy, as the CEO of Mircosoft. The first piece:

You Need To Embrace Empathy To Excel At Your Workplace And In Life

describes all of Satya’s 3 main benefits of empathy from a business perspective.

The second piece:

Who are we?

is where I start to look into each of them from my perspective, as someone who works with healthcare professionals (predominantly) to optimise their natural empathic attributes.

Today’s piece is about his Number 2 benefit as seen above: Empathy helps open your mind. 

Why is this, because I certainly advocate the same message in my training sessions.

When we do not empathise, we do not allow other people’s view points, perspectives, truths and therefore experiences to enter our consciousnesses. Sometimes, we struggle as our hard wiring is not set up to do that easily. However 98% of the population are hardwired to empathise, to a greater or lesser degree. We may struggle because we are not encouraged to do this in our workplace, or policy and procedure inhibits this ability. We may be struggling with what is happening in our own world and fear being overwhelmed?

c246840a6387d3708b60d27ea98b89bf (1)However, the more closed off we are to others perspectives, the smaller our world gets. But what is key here, is the emotional awareness aspect. Learning about our own biases and perspectives.

Understanding some of our fears and when we are reacting to those fears in an unhelpful way, enables us to know ourselves better. When we do that…recognise our emotional data and language…we are more able to recognise emotional language and data in others. But sometimes we can get stuck in our own thoughts, emotions and experiences. Empathy, which of course focuses on the perspectives and feelings of others, often through imagination, can enable us to grow personally by challenging our thoughts and views, understanding them better and developing what we need to also. We open our mind to look in a different direction and see a different perspective.

I very much wished to only see my perspective after I lost a child in hospital and wanted to feel very angry with the consultant and see him and his actions in a hateful way. Yet empathy helped me. It challenged me to try and see his perspective, what might it be like to be in his position and how might that feel? This did not equate in me agreeing with him, but I was able to acknowledge him as having a different set of feelings and perspectives, experiences and understanding than me. Empathy opened my mind to see 39ba2dbbeyond the initial picture. The difficulty of this process….and trust me…empathising with the clinician was not an easy task! But that difficult process pushed and challenged my mind and how I viewed things. It enabled me to not only see the perspective of the other person, but to understand my own perspective more clearly also. Win win!

Empathy was something that was not reciprocated to me by the hospital, but that in turn, gave me insight to the harm that can be done when empathy is not used. When emotional awareness both individually and culturally is not recognised as important or promoted. This struggle of both sides, 1) trying to exercise empathy and 2) being denied it, gave me a richer picture of the impact the presence or absence of empathy had on interactions, conflict, understanding and compassion. One that I am very grateful to have.

Email on carolyn@cc-et.co.uk





Who are we?

When Satya Nadella became CEO of Microsoft in 2014 he recognised that….

“Teamwork was being replaced by internal politics. We were falling behind, While I admired every member of our team, I felt that we needed to deepen our understanding of one another—to delve into what really makes each of us tick—and to connect our personal philosophies to our jobs.”

He emphasized on knowing each other a little bit more, then only can empathy exist and he stated that ‘Empathy improves teamwork’ as the first in his 3 benefits of empathy in successful business. All three stated in a previous article yesterday You Need To Embrace Empathy To Excel At Your Workplace And In Life in which I covered this interview with Satya and said that I would discuss each point in a little more detail. So, here are my thoughts on this first point.

Who are we?…..

This is always the title of any training day or workshop that I deliver, why? Well simply put, who we are is at the heart of all we do.

When people talk of organisations, they are made of people.

When people talk of families, they are made of people.

When people talk of groups, they are made up of people.

When people talk of teams, they too are made up of people.

People drive the world. They drive ideas and inventions. They drive both love and hate and they drive success and failure. Yet people, what makes you…the reader…you, and me…me, is very often overlooked.

Whether I am working with a hospital complaints teams, care home staff, clinical staff, leadership teams, or non-healthcare professionals, the beginning focus of the day Screenshot (196)is and should be who are we? In essence…getting to know you!

Who is that person sat next to you? Maybe the person you have worked with nearly every day for the past year. Or the person who you may have just met. So, the beginning of the day starts off with pairs of people exchanging a story about themselves that has had an impact on them, or something that has impacted on them in the last 7 days.

Almost without exception, about 70% will share something very personal and often about loss of some kind. Each time showing how much we often have going on in our own lives. They then will hear a story from me, a very personal, emotive narrative about the presence and absence of empathy. A story of loss, despair and hope. And within the first hour, we become a group of people, connected, by knowing something about each other that we didn’t an hour before.

And this in turn starts to build an important human connection between us. As Satya Nadella states, “we needed to deepen our understanding of one another—to delve into what really makes each of us tick”. So as we start to understand each other in the group, as colleagues in the workplace start to understand each other a little more, the opportunity is presented to build relationships and gain more cohesion in our work lives and personal lives. Using our empathy to support us in this.

But sometimes empathy gets a bad press about being bad for our health, and whilst I train in optimising our empathic abilities, I also would agree, yes it can,, if all we do is absorb ourselves in others emotions, without self-awareness and valuing our own well-being sufficiently at the same time. Something intrinsically connected to using empathy intelligently and well. When we look, however at how much damage happens to others in this world, by the lack of empathy, there is no doubt in my mind that it needs to exist.

As with many emotional reactions, understanding it and optimising it intelligently is key. Anyone who has been on a plane will be familiar with the advice over oxygen masks. Resist the temptation to assist and ‘rescue’ others until you have put your own oxygen mask on. It does not state, put your own oxygen mask on then simply ignore anyone else in need. More so, take care of yourself by taking responsibility for yourself, and then anyone less able to manage in this particular situation, support them. Be aware of them. Look, listen, see their perspective, and feel enough to respond.

So using our natural empathic abilities, along with our reasoning, intellect and sense of self is a skill set worth developing. Satya states that without empathy, something key is missing to drive forward a succesful business and work life.

Indeed, to not have room for empathy in work life and personal life, is to simply be putting on your oxygen mask and not looking around you at others. Not being interestes and having  with  an absence of wishing to understand. To me that equates in a more dangerous place to be, for our own well-being, professional and personal relationships and those we interact with. What Satya is proving through his success and is also recognised overwhelmingly in business research, is that empathy and getting to know others, is a key skill to have, develop and demonstrate. Without it, an organisation can be hollow and empty, small minded and detrimental to those working there.

So who are we? And getting to know people, as the first part of any training or workshop I do, is one of the most important and impactful part of the day.

Oh and a little cheesy music in the form of the wonderful Deborah Kerr singing from the King and I, gives us just the right start too! Go on….have a listen….you know you want to and…… get to know someone today!! 🙂

Email me on carolyn@cc-et.co.uk

Twitter: @carolynccet

For more about me and the empathy work I do..click here

News: According To Microsoft CEO, You Need To Embrace Empathy To Excel At Your Workplace And In Life

It has been almost three and a half years since Satya Nadella took the reins at Microsoft and during this period, a lot has changed both inside and outside Microsoft.

Under his leadership, Microsoft stopped trying to go head-to-head with Apple and Android devices. It narrowed down its focus on areas where it could shine, like cloud computing and artificial intelligence.

his recent talk with Bloomberg accompanied with the launch of his new business-book-slash-memoir, Hit Refresh, he recounts how, as a new CEO, he came to realize that the company’s recent stumbles weren’t due to failures of intellect, but of cultural cohesion.

In a recent blog post on LinkedIn, he emphasized on the power of empathy quoting, “I hope readers see the book’s main takeaway as the power of taking everyday action driven by empathy.”

to the Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, there are very beautiful lessons which could be learned from practicing empathy at your workplace and in your life as well.

As Nadella writes, “Hitting refresh is required for any person and organization looking to make a sustained impact over a long period of time.” He further added, “Ideas excite me. Empathy grounds and centers me”

1. Empathy improves teamwork.

When he became CEO in 2014 he saw, “Teamwork was being replaced by internal politics. We were falling behind, While I admired every member of our team, I felt that we needed to deepen our understanding of one another—to delve into what really makes each of us tick—and to connect our personal philosophies to our jobs.” He emphasized on knowing each other a little bit more, then only can empathy exist.

2. Empathy helps open your mind.

Nadella says empathy does far more than just motivating you to volunteer or donate, as it primarily opens your mind up to think more about other people’s perspectives.

In a recent Wall Street Journal interview he said, “The business we are in is to meet the unmet, unarticulated needs of customers, and there’s no way you’re going to do that well without having empathy and curiosity.” He also acknowledged that he didn’t realize just how important empathy was until his son was born with cerebral palsy. It was an experience that led him to better understand why being able to see things from somebody else’s perspective is so important.

3. Empathy helps you admit mistakes and move on.

If you remember he took over Microsoft right after it bought Nokia’s phone business for more than $7 billion. It was an investment plenty of tech analysts have argued was a bad idea. Under Nadella, Microsoft stopped repeating that mistake and shifted its focus in areas like cloud computing and AI.

That one of the perfect example of learning to admit your mistakes even after being counted as one of the leading tech giants. With the help of empathy, they carved their own new path to success.

Bill Gates says:  Gates said, “It was no surprise to me that once Nadella became Microsoft’s CEO, he immediately put his mark on the company. As the title of this book implies, he didn’t completely break with the past when you hit refresh on your browser, some of what’s on the page stays the same.”

CarolynMy thoughts:

I will admit, I did not recognise the name Satya Nadella. I am far from an I.T expert!

I mean, I love my mobile phone….in fact I LOVE my mobile phone and I love the connection it gives me to people I care about and the world beyond my mind. But I did not recognise Satya Nadella’s name, as I do not follow Microsoft. But, this news story came up on my empathy news search, and I found his outlook, both resonated with me personally and professionally.

Working in the emotional aspect of healthcare and with my background of counselling, again, I could not be further from I.T. However I was interested on Satya’s take of empathy in business – a large business. I was not disappointed. Interested however to read that his interest in empathy developed when his son was born with Cerebral Palsy.

This is not a surprise for me as when something like that rocks your world, it makes you aware of the impact of how others treat you and indeed how they know and perceive you. Something I experienced ten fold after losing my child in hospital and recognising both the absence and presence of empathy, as I went through a brutal system to have her voice, and mine heard and the truth represented.

It’s exactly why I do what I do with my empathy training and my Journey Through Complaints Using Empathy, one of my training programmes. Working to help support staff to not only recognise the needs of others, but to understand themselves too and promote their own well-being in the process of promoting the well-being of others, is one of the most amazing jobs in the world.

I am going to write more about each of Satya’s 3 points on empathy this week and explore in a little more detail from the perspective of what I do. For now, his Hit Refresh book sounds like something to go on my reading list and will inspire me as I work on my own, long awaited book. Thank you Satya.

More about me and my work can be seen here

Carolyn Cleveland – Empathy Envoy
Twitter: @carolynccet