Optimise Your Mindset

How to reconcile empathy with excellence

April 25, 2022
min read

When you hear the word ‘empathy’ – do you immediately think of it as a strength or a weakness in a work context?

Many of the wonderful humans I work with often think of it as a weakness, because they struggle to reconcile their empathetic side with the side within them that strives for excellence.

But here’s the issue – we tend to confuse empathy with simply ‘being nice’. Whereas empathy is less about being nice and more about being able to understand complexities – feelings, thoughts, behaviours and situations.

A quote to keep in mind

“‘How can we solve the world’s most urgent problems if we’ve downgraded our attention spans, downgraded our capacity for complexity and nuance?“

– Tristan Harris, Center for Humane Technology testifying to US Senate

How to reconcile empathy with excellence

Achieving excellence requires setting high standards and communicating them clearly to those who we’re working with.

At the same time, ensuring that those standards are embraced wholeheartedly, and therefore met, requires a collaborative understanding of whether and how that person with all their complexities and nuances will be able to meet those set expectations. This is empathy – spending time with a colleague to help them understand how they can be at their best.

So the two really go hand in hand.

Author Portrait
Written by
Mica Vaipan

Performance & wellbeing coach, entrepreneur. Formerly startup founder, tech startup COO and investment banker.

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