From my blog post, Do you only Listen through your Ears?:
Empathy is a major differentiator between the traditional process methodologies of Six Sigma, and I say this tongue–in-cheek, Lean. Many times when you review Design for Six Sigma, Lean Startup, Lean Product Development, and Lean Design (the list goes on), seldom when you search (like never) the index of the book will you find the words Empathy. I think that is a major difference in Design Thinking, Service Design and as I like to call it, EDCA.
That word empathy is a hard thing to practice. Some people may say you are born with or raised with it. I think you can acquire it, but it takes a different set of listening skills than most of us develop.
In a recent article in the New York Times, The Morality of Meditation, I have taken the liberty of pulling several quotes:
MEDITATION is fast becoming a fashionable tool for improving your mind. With mounting scientific evidence that the practice can enhance creativity, memory and scores on standardized intelligence tests, interest in its practical benefits is growing.
This is all well and good, but if you stop to think about it, there’s a bit of a disconnect between the (perfectly commendable) pursuit of these benefits and the purpose for which meditation was originally intended.
The heightened control of the mind that meditation offers was supposed to help its practitioners see the world in a new and more compassionate way, allowing them to break free from the categorizations (us/them, self/other) that commonly divide people from one another.
They confirmed that even relatively brief training in meditative techniques can alter neural functioning in brain areas associated with empathic understanding of others’ distress — areas whose responsiveness is also modulated by a person’s degree of felt associations with others.
If we want to connect with our customer, if we want to develop an intuitive read of an organization’s needs, we first need to have compassion and empathy. It is the act of empathy that we develop through using meditation that allows us to develop a more empathetic sales process. Empathy is the fundamental principle of understanding. How can we develop objective views without it?
I like to call the program The Sales Neuro Charger, Meditation on Steroids