Empathy is a skill, not a potential

No empathy without scenic competence. We do not feel into another being nor is our feeling a kind of sense aimed to perceive the emotional situation of another being. Empathy is a skill; we learn it in our life. We understand another’s (persons or groups) feelings (emotion, perception, needs, thoughts, motives …) by our learned ability to reproduce a scene in which the others are situated and acting. Empathy is a creative skill. With it we re-enact the scene of others and by doing so we can reproduce the inner experiences of another being. So, it is not without reason that one of the sources of the empathy concept is a way of understanding art. It was transferred into a psychological concept by Theodor Lipps.

To understand how to learn the empathetic skillset we have to differentiate between the scenic empathy, recognizing in what emotional loaded scene another is perceiving and acting on one hand and on the other the intrapsychic empathy, to react with our own feeling to our cognitive scenic understanding.

For a better scenic understanding and with that scenic empathy it is immensely helpful to look into the sociometric, psychodramatic concept of a role swap by J.L. Moreno and the theory of the humanistic psychodrama. In a proverb of native Americans, it is described as:

»Do not judge about someone if you have not a moon long walked in his/her moccasins.«

Scenic understanding is learnable, learnable even in a training. With the important second part of empathy, the intrapsychic empathy its different. Still, it is learnable, but not in a classical leadership training put into a 45 min timeframe. You may in a cognitive way understand the scene of others, but to have an empathetic moment you need your own inner reference, similar own experience. For that you need to have a full, in experiences rich life. A good leadership session may give you some new and touching experiences, but it can not be the substitute for a fully lived life – one of the reason why we look different into a curriculum vitae, asking for an experience full and very vivid lived live.

Rüdiger Müngersdorff

Something is missing – Experiences with non-analogue workshops

Time brings us the chance to have increased experiences with non-analogue workshops using different digital tools. We see the value in this form of collaborative working whenever we have to exchange facts and figures, whenever we have to inform and to get feedback. It makes things easy and fast. In our webinars we already know, that exchanging knowledge and informing about skills is working well. We also get step by step good results by working with non-analogue breakout groups and doing so we have the element of social calibration of the group at least partly solved. Our first steps to integrate group dynamic elements in this form of workshop.

Nevertheless, there is something missing.

Words without body

Voltaire put the topic boldly in one of his aphorisms: »One great use of words is to hide our thoughts.« Bodies, eyes do not lie. So, when it comes to confrontation, to bring people out of their comfort zones, when there must be addressed group dynamic topics, we encounter the limits of the non-analogue working form. We miss, what our Chinese friends’ phrase so well: We do not reach a heart to heart talk.

But we are working on it. Do not hesitate to contact us – developments are fast in this time.

Rüdiger Müngersdorff