Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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    Practical empathy (vs. telepathy)

    “If I were you…”

    or, more commonly, “if you were me.”

    Management has never been easy, but as the world becomes more complex, it gets more difficult.

    We’d like to imagine that the person (or AI bot, or freelancer, or firm) that we hired has enough drive, insight and common sense to do exactly what we do in the situation.

    No need to spell everything out, just think like me and do the right thing.

    Of course, the person being managed is just as challenged in empathy as you are. You don’t know what it’s like to be them, and vice versa.

    The person we’re counting on doesn’t see what we see, doesn’t know what we know and might not even want what we want.

    We can deny this and insist that they read our heart and our minds.

    Or we can embrace this and lean into empathy. We can draw a very clear picture of what we seek and create the conditions for the person to do the work that we’d like to have done.

    Managing is a skill and it’s difficult. Sometimes, we’re lucky enough to work with someone who manages themselves, but we don’t often give this commitment the credit it deserves.

    The rest of the time, we’re signing up for the hard work of not only seeing where someone else is, but going there and working to be understood.

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