The Science Behind: Empathy

We have the tremendous ability to consciously choose to put ourselves in other people’s shoes and take on their perspective.

Usually we see the world only through our own eyes. But we also have the tremendous ability to consciously choose to put ourselves in other people’s shoes and take on their perspective. Our ability to feel empathy is part of what makes us human; even as babies, we feel it, studies show. And many of us have strengthened our empathy muscle in recent months as we’ve considered the challenges others are facing.

Empathy isn’t just one of the greatest gifts we can give another person — it can actually improve our performance in the workplace. One survey of nearly 7,000 employees found that job performance was directly related to a leader’s ability to practice empathy. Another study of over 15,000 participants similarly found that the single greatest driver of overall job performance is the ability to listen and respond with empathy. Try a Microstep to help you see through a different lens. For example, in your next conversation or meeting, pause to consider another person’s perspective. Asking yourself, “What might this person be feeling?” fosters empathy and helps deepen your connections with others.

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