Atticus Finch is sticking in our minds these days.
And not due to Harper Lee’s just published Go Set a Watchman.
It’s this quote: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view ... Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."
That sage piece of advice, as true today as 55+ years ago, needs to penetrate the hearts of business leaders and their employees.
Oh sure, for some, the ‘empathy’ quotient works. It’s how the CEO of Intuit designs his products, all the EQ stuff Daniel Goleman talks about. For many companies that exist on growing relationships, it’s the second Golden Rule, the way their people connect and relate to others. It’s the honest, dedicated interest in others, beyond selfies, out of cubicles and open work space.
There’s even a strong data-driven tie between empathy and positive performance, demonstrated in the 2000s by the Center for Creative Leadership’s research.
Yet. Why do so many sidestep the emotion play when launching a Customer Experience initiative? How often do company communications actively, even proactively talk about listening – and express bona fide emotions? Where do learning and development professionals, those responsible for creating required (and not-so) courses, stand on encouraging workers to cultivate compassion, to take genuine perspectives, to make themselves vulnerable in the right ways (after listening hard)?
Or from Scout’s point of view: "Atticus had said it was the polite thing to talk to people about what they were interested in, not about what you were interested in."