Why Empathy is a Very Good Thing


Have you ever been told when making hard decisions, you should put your emotions aside?

I know I have. However, Chade-Meng Tan in “Search Inside Yourself” said often the opposite is true. “In many situations, the best way to make tough decisions is with kindness and empathy … If we make tough decisions without empathy, we can more easily achieve what we want in the short term, but we also create resentment and mistrust, which hurt our own interest in the long term. If instead we treat the affected people with kindness and empathy, we create trust and understanding.”

But does that mean I have to side with them? Tan also quoted Aristotle: “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

Meaning, you can entertain another’s feelings without necessarily agreeing with them. So why should you do this? Well, often if you approach tough decisions with enough trust and understanding, you’re more likely to win cooperation.

Tan brought up an example: One company gave its employees two years’ notice the plant was shutting down. On top of the amount of time, they also helped employees find new jobs. A majority of employees still had positive things to say about the company almost a year later.

Another company gave its employees a week’s notice the plant was shutting down and didn’t even try to help the workers find new jobs. Only three percent of employees said the company had been a good place to work.

So, even though a hard decision was made, the company who made it with empathy won the hearts of its people. As Tan said, “Some people call it, ‘being tough without being an SOB.’”

I know you have hard decisions to make on a daily basis, Affiliate. This is a business of people and relationships after all. Whether it’s firing a Coach or telling a member they had better stop stealing people’s equipment mid workout, you have to have hard conversations daily. It could be easy to distance yourself; however, as Tan shares it can often end better if your people know you’re coming from a place of caring.

And he said one way to do this is simply by making it a mental habit. Whenever you cross paths of someone or see a member at your gym, start training yourself to think through 1) that they are human and have the same pain, the same desires for happiness, as you and 2) that you wish for them to be happy simply because they are a fellow human being. Tan goes a bit more in-depth, but that’s basically the gist of it.

This week I challenge you to begin viewing people with this mindset. View them as human, as wanting happiness as well. Allow yourself empathy and see what it brings.

Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at heather@peakemedia.com.