Empathy helps us to change perspective
The importance of this ability, both in the professional as well as in the private environment, has been impressively described and documented in the remarkable book “Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman. There are two mechanisms that are crucial here.
First, empathy helps us to change perspective. There is general agreement that we live in an increasingly individualized society, in which the ego and self-realization, whatever that may be, are extremely important values.
Just me, me, me
Advertising slogans such as “Ich und mein Magnum” by Langnese, “Geiz ist geil” by Saturn or “remarkable” by Postbank express this in an impressive and, in my opinion, often terrifying manner.
Are these values that children are bombarded with every day really the values we want to convey to them? But if you now only take the “I” perspective, you may actually have a certain career, because you have learned to use your elbows.
What does the Chinese business partner think?
At some point, however, it could also end for you, namely at the point where you need this empathy. For example, if you have the willingness to think and think about your Chinese business partners in order to finalize the big deal for building a factory in China.
This is then translated with intercultural competence, which, however, consists above all of high empathy and not of the learning of social rules.
Emotions are controlled by empathy
Secondly, empathy also helps us to control our emotions and not to let too much negative emotions arise.
Take the example of two employees of Deutsche Lufthansa AG working at the Lost and Found switch. Forty minutes ago an A380 from Beijing landed and it was found that the luggage of nearly a hundred passengers were not taken by a mistake of the Beijing airport.
Situations that can not be changed
The luggage is currently in Sydney. Both Lufthansa employees are therefore all hands full. Many passengers take the message in a resilient, so relaxed manner, they know they can not change the situation.
But there are also some passengers who lose their nerve because they have important business appointments the next day or, let's take another example, because the wedding dress is for the four-day US wedding of a future bride. #
Move into the others
Employee A now has to do with the bride. She can be very good in her skin and correspondingly bounce the verbal abuse to which she is exposed.
When the bride grows massively in the tone, the employee A again stresses in a quiet way that she can understand the anger well, but still begs not to be insulted.
I am only a human being?
Employee B, who, in turn, has the bridegroom at your desk, can not understand the verbal abuse that he is making.
Her thoughts go through her head like "I'm just a human being", "I can't help it", "What a terrible job". Eventually it bursts out of her and she screams just like the groom did before. The emotions have become so strong that she can no longer control them.
Despite the stress with clear head act
Empathy therefore helps us not to let such intense feelings arise in this situation, so we do not have to control them either.
It then helps us to see a situation as a challenge rather and to act with a clear mind. It is precisely the ability that very resilient people master very well in difficult situations.
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German edition: ISBN 9783965965430
English version: ISBN 9783965965416 (Translation notice)
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