What do you see when you look at the world?
When you talk about empathy and its role in having a caring mindset, it’s important to look at the world around us. These days when I look around, I see a lot more “me” than “us” or “we”. And this is the problem: no one is an island.
While it’s important to have confidence, that does not mean you leave respect and understanding behind.
I consulted with someone who was so self-absorbed he did not even realize his company was falling behind. He refused to share credit instead of acknowledging the contributions of individuals on his team. He took full and complete credit.
People left, productivity suffered, and profits fell.
One of the top performers in our firm left to work for one of our competitors. I was not happy of course, but I tried to be gracious and accepting, in other words, empathetic. He felt this was a dream opportunity for him, except it was not six months later I heard through the grapevine that he was not happy and wanted to return. I admit it. I was not exactly empathetic and let my ego get in the way because at first I had not even considered taking him back.
Eventually I realized that I had to at least listen to his reasoning. When we finally met, I asked him why he wanted to return. I was speechless at his response.
He told me that our firm treated him as a human being. He was just a cog in a machine at his current employer.
What really got me was when he told me that if he died today, he knew I would attend his funeral along with everyone else at our firm. He was equally convinced that no one from his current company would.
In other words, he wanted to be treated with empathy. Being treated with respect was more important than the additional money he was making. I was very humbled that he would think of our organisation that way and I welcomed him back.
It was another reminder to me of the power of empathy.
One of the world’s pre-eminent experts on quality and process improvements, Subir Chowdhury is the #1 international bestselling author on SIX SIGMA philosophy. Hailed by The New York Times as a “leading Quality expert,” and by Business Week as “the Quality Prophet”, he is the author of 15 books. His latest book THE DIFFERENCE: When Good Enough Isn’t Enough (Crown Business, 2017) made it to the USA Today Bestseller list as well as National Bestseller in India. In 2017, India’s prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur established the ‘Subir Chowdhury School of Quality and Reliability’ – the first of its kind in Asia. He is the Chairman and CEO of ASI Consulting Group and helped his clients save billions of dollars.