The Power of Empathy

The audio of this RSA short is of Dr Brené Brown who spoke at the RSA on The Power of Vulnerability. She talks about the difference between sympathy and empathy and argues that to be truly empathetic you have to be vulnerable by connecting with someone’s pain in yourself.

This short video is a fantastic primer for empathy. What is empathy? How does it differ from sympathy? Are adorable animals the best at explaining any topic?

Here are the main things I took from this short talk.

  • Empathy is a choice.
    It’s a choice to connect with another person by reaching within yourself to get access to that part of yourself that hurts in the same way the other person does. It’s a vulnerable choice to make because you’re opening up.
  • Sympathy drives disconnection. Empathy fuels connection.
  • Response doesn’t make something better. Connection makes something better.

Empathy is important in the world of customer service too. Showing empathy is a vital customer service tool. It builds the connection between you and the other person. It brings you together. Connecting with people is a great first step in starting to help them. You’re an ally, not an enemy. You’re showing them empathy, not sympathy. Sympathy starts with at least…

I know you lost all your work, but at least you still have a job. That’s sympathy.
Empathy is not always offering a response. Sometimes the best response is to say, I understand.

Showing a little empathy can go a long way to bettering your relationships with your customers, friends and family. At the end of the day, we don’t want to be alone. We want to make connections with each other. Build those connections with empathy.