The Power of Role-Reversal in Developing EmpathyPosted: December 24, 2012
John Wenger writes a compelling article about the importance of moving beyond empathy — “standing in each other’s shoes” — through role-reversal. Empathy is not only a core leadership competency but an ability required for healthy relationships in every dimension of one’s life. Seeing through another’s eyes, getting into (not under) some else’s skin, and walking in another’s shoes is essential if we are to truly optimize healing healthcare and the patient experience. I hope that you will enjoy Wenger’s article, especially as many around the world call to mind the day when God became flesh, fully embracing our humanity to see and live like us in every way. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
As a sociatrist, I’m passionate about people in business developing greater ability to stand in each others’ shoes. It’s one of the cornerstones of the work we do at Quantum Shift and is central to nurturing greater health in organisations. This is often given the name “empathy”. I bristle a little, however, when I hear someone say, “I can have empathy for them, but…..” What’s that expression? Everything before the “but” is bulls**t. I go along with Professor Simon Baron Cohen’s idea that empathy sits along a spectrum. I also go along with Martin Buber’s suggestion that the point on the spectrum at which we start treating people as objects is when we are capable of cruelty. At the same time, I would extend this to say that we can go beyond empathy and develop the ability to role reverse with others. There is an embodied knowing that comes via…
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