Michael Ventura is the founder of Sub Rosa, a design and strategy firm based in New York who has worked with top brands like Google, Nike, Adobe, Goldman Sachs, Warby Parker, just to name a few.
He has the most vivid view of empathy I’ve ever seen and how it practically related to business, productivity, and profit. He is the author of Applied Empathy and guest lectures at Princeton and West Point.
What Is Applied Empathy?
Ventura and I are in agreement empathy in leadership is a big advantage, but many, including me, don’t fully understand the full depth and complexity of empathy. Understanding the different forms of empathy gives leaders an enormous edge in managing people.
Many leaders don’t know how to practically apply empathy to their work. Indeed, someone can be empathetic, but fail to actually use that insight to lead effectively. Ventura says practical, profit-driving empathy starts with understanding the three core kinds of empathy.
Affective empathy, as an oversimplified example, is when someone is sad about a particular issue and you relate to them because you’ve been in a similar scenario. Therefore you treat them the way you recall you would have wanted to be treated. This is difficult to actually teach.
Somatic empathy is neurological kind of sympathy pain that one can physically feel as someone else goes through something similar. This is very hard, perhaps impossible, to teach.
Cognitive empathy is the trainable form of empathy that is good for management and leadership to get better at. This style of empathy is one of perspective taking, and the ability to step outside of your own practices. Ventura explained cognitive empathy is focused one hundred percent on others and removes self from the equation entirely.
7 Types of Cognitive Empathy
There are 7 archetypes of empathy, which is far too much to go into on the podcast, but Ventura did explain an interesting scenario with a leadership team involving a few of them. When asked to label their own empathy strength, the entire team picked inquirer, which is essentially meant they were great at asking the right questions.
However, when they picked their weakest archetype of empathy, they all picked confidant. “You all really care about the question, but no one cares about the answers,” Ventura explained.
Learn More About Michael Ventura
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