The measure of empathy scores for college students in the US shows a continual drop over the last 30 years from low (4.0) to lower (3.5). Companies have significantly increased the use of the word “empathy” in the job descriptions for roles paying over $100,000 per year. There is an increasing supply/demand gap! The article in Fortune Magazine (September 2014), Employers are looking for new hires with something extra: Empathy describes the need — particularly in technical fields.
Empathy helps the employee better understand the customer experience as well as collaborate well with others on a team. The skill of being able to understand others’ emotions is built on an ability to read micro-impressions on the face … and paying attention to what they tell you about the emotions of the other person. Thinking about an issue or topic from the view of others is critical for influence and persuasion. The lack of face-to-face conversation in our current society does not bode well for building these empathy skills.
So how is empathy measured?
One of the more respected tools for measurement is the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) and there are many others. Eight of the true/false questions used in the test are listed below (followed by “T” for true = empathetic and “F” = not empathetic):
- As a rule I have little difficulty in “putting myself into other people’s shoes.” (T)
- I have seen some things so sad that I almost felt like crying. (T)
- Disobedience to the government is never justified. (F)
- It is the duty of a citizen to support his country, right or wrong. (F)
- I am usually rather short-tempered with people who come around and bother me with foolish questions. (F)
- I have a pretty clear idea of what I would try to impart to my students if I were a teacher. (T)
- I enjoy the company of strong-willed people. (T)
- I frequently undertake more than I can accomplish. (T)
We have seen the price of the empathy gap thousands of times! One of the powerful tools for building awareness and influence skills is the Other Person’s Point Of View™ (OPPOV™) analysis and the SOME™ Worksheet. We cover this topic as one of our foundation skills in our book Seeing Yourself as Others Do – Authentic Executive Presence at Any Stage of Your Career. If you would like a PDF of the OPPOV and SOME for your personal use, send me an email request to Tom.Mungavan@ChangeMasters.com with the word “OPPOV” in the subject line.