Category: Science of Empathy

Telling An Emotionally True Story Can Stop An Escalating Conflict

The next time you are preparing for a workplace investigation or a difficult conversation, remember that human emotions are universal. Human Resources professionals are typically brought into the conversation when feelings are at their most intense.  If a team member is accused of sexual harassment, all parties have emotional responses whether the accusation proves to be true or false.  Coworkers may have shared details about their salaries and heated arguments…

Empathy? In Denmark they are learning it in school

Denmark is one of the happiest countries in the world. This is according to the UN’s World Happiness Report, an important survey that since 2012 classifies the happiness of 155 countries in the world, and that for seven years has placed Denmark among the top three happiest countries on a global level. The fact that teaching empathy has been mandatory since 1993 in schools in Denmark is a factor that contributes to the…

Empathy Is Tough to Teach, But Is One Of the Most Important Life Lessons

KQED provides a well crafted summary of Brene Brown’s teachings and links to related content. In particular we appreciate the statement: “Dr. Brown says empathy consists of four qualities: the ability to take the perspective of another person, staying away from judgment, recognizing emotion in others, and communicating it. She defines empathy as “feeling with people,” and notes that it’s a “vulnerable choice” because it requires a person to tap…

Explaining Science Using Improv

Can improv help us become better communicators? As teachers? As co-workers? As managers? Human interactions can seem complicated. We often do not know what a person will say or do and there is little time to develop the most empathic response. Subsequently, we may fail to pick up on signals or we may say something we later regret. In improv, a group of people acts out a theme that the…

A Robot Walks Into a Bar, But Can It Do Comedy?

Artificial intelligence (AI) has taken the world by storm over the past several years. From smartphone applications that give us driving directions to personal assistants like Amazon’s Alexa to smart home lighting systems, robotic intelligence has become an accepted part of everyday life. People love convenience and are willing to pay what the manufacturers ask in exchange for an easier life. The arts, and in particular stand-up comedy, are one…

How the Mirror Neuron System Regulates Empathy

How do we understand others when we haven’t experienced what they’re going through? How are we able to share in the joy and sadness of those around us? Why do some people seem so adept at suspending personal judgment, seeing through the masks we wear to the authentic self? Science believes they’ve discovered the part of our brains that makes this important human connection possible. Let’s take a look at…

Using the Science of Empathy and Storytelling to Connect in the Workplace

I first learned how to investigate workplace misconduct when I worked for Target.  I remember after I completed my first investigation, I conducted the interview, got to the truth, they wrote a statement, management terminated them, and police made the arrest.  As they were leaving with police, the person turned to me and thanked me. I was confused.  I didn’t know what to say.  So I went with what my…