Sympathy is NOT Empathy

Connecting with people requires empathy i.e. you feel the emotion another individual feels.  This is different from sympathy where you recognize the emotion but don’t feel it.

In Fired Up or Burned Out, I wrote about the company Cranium and how it designs “high five moments” into its games.  High five moments are times when people connect via the shared empathy of joy (remember that we define “the force of connection” as shared identity, empathy and understanding).  When you are interacting with people you want to connect with, feeling and expressing emotion helps.  When you feel someone’s joy or pain, it connects.

In the news

Here are a few recent articles related to connection that you might enjoy:

Walter Isaacson wrote about leadership lessons from Steve Jobs’ life for Harvard Business Review.  In the article, Isaason addresses issues relevant to Connection Cultures including the elements of Vision, Value and Voice.  Jobs was brilliant when it came to Vision, terrible when it came to Value and mixed win it came to Voice.  Fortunately, there are other members of Apple’s senior leadership team whose strengths helped overcome Jobs’ weaknesses.

David Brooks just wrote a column for The New York Times entitled “The Relationship School” that touches on aspects of Connection Cultures in schools.

The Atlantic had a piece entitled “Stress Makes You Sick: Exploring the Immune System Connection.” The article explores how stress weakens the human immune system and mentions the link between stress and connection. (Remember I shared with you that recent research over a 20-year period showed people who work in cultures with supportive relationships had mortality rates that were 2.4 times lower than people who worked in cultures with weak relational support. This supports the longstanding view that lifestyles with little relational support produce chronic stress will kill you.)

While teaching seminars on leadership and Connection Cultures at the Darden Graduate School of Business, Professor Marian Moore introduced me to the work of her colleague Jonathan Haidt, a social psychology professor at the University of Virginia.  Haidt just wrote The Righteous Mind.  Here’s a well-written review of the book entitled “Why Won’t They Listen?”  The book review clearly shows it addresses issues related to the Connection Culture elements of Value and Voice.  I’ve ordered a copy but not read it yet.

Finally, I recently spoke with Jim Blasingame about the competitive advantage of culture on his nationally syndicated radio program entitled “Small Business Advocate” that you can hear at this link.  Also, I wrote an article on the  “Science of Engagement” for Training Industry Quarterly.

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