All about empathy

Have you ever said or done anything stupid? If not, congratulations! Maybe you should be reading a website for perfect people who don’t need help…

Now that it’s just us imperfect people here, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Everybody says and does stupid things sometimes. And we all hate it when we get called out on it. Especially when we didn’t realize we were the idiot in the room until everyone was looking at us.

When you’re communicating with other people, in business or in life, sometimes you’re going to be the idiot. And sometimes it’s going to be someone else. Either way, be gentle. If you see someone making a mistake, think about how you’d want them to handle it if you were the one making the mistake. Would you want an e-mail copied to everyone in the department making it clear you’re illiterate and incompetent? Or would you want a private message saying, hey, this doesn’t look like it will work, maybe re-evaluate?

The great thing about a friendly e-mail is if the person you’re talking to sees reason, they owe you one and they’ll appreciate that you looked out for them. If not, then you can forward that sucker everywhere, but you gave them a fair chance. A chance you’d like to have if it’s you that made the mistake.

So often, we get caught up in details about who’s right and who’s wrong and passing out credit. It seems like a great idea until you’re the one on the wrong side of an interaction. So basic Golden Rule stuff, if you want to work in an organization where when people make mistakes they get understanding and gentle correction, it starts with you. Make friends by looking out for other people when and where you can. The favor will be repaid.

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