Money Cannot Buy Empathy

Did you ever feel that the rich in this country lack basic empathy? This possibility sounds remote, but new research reveals that such discrepancies in empathy can be quantified and demonstrated to be true. A recent New York Times article called “The Rich Lack Empathy, Study Says” reports the findings of researchers this past October. According to one of the researchers in charge of the study, Dr. Keltner, the economically disadvantaged lack the means to hire people to help them, so in order to seek aid and support, they develop effective empathy skills. The wealthy, who have the benefit of being able to hire people to support them, do not develop these skills to the same degree. As a result, those from wealthy backgrounds often miss emotional cues and non-verbal hints.

Here are some ways that difficulties with empathy can show up in individuals:

  • Lack of identification with others.
  • Limited imagination for how other people could go about accomplishing a task.
  • Inability to tell what someone might be thinking.
  • Missed social cues and hints.

The drawbacks of having a poorly developed sense of empathy include being seen by peers, family, or employees as cold or insensitive. Stepping up your empathy skill set can alleviate these problems. A person with an empathy deficit should bank on using a visualization exercise in which one imagines they are in the others’ shoes.

So putting care and understanding into all one’s relationships, may trigger a lot more positive energy (and even greater employee engagement).

What do you think?


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