6 Questions That Inspire Empathy

If you want to succeed at just about anything today you will need to connect with others.  It doesn’t matter who you are or what role you play - salesperson, executive, consultant, teacher, doctor, or waitress - we all need to work for, with, or through others in order to succeed.  Steven Covey once said:  “Life is, by nature, highly interdependent. To try to achieve maximum effectiveness through independence is like trying to play tennis with a golf club”.  I couldn’t agree more.  Connecting with others is extremely important!

But how can we connect with others?  How can we become interdependent?

Several years ago I discovered a tool that helps with this dramatically.  The tool is called the empathy map and it was designed by Scott Matthews from Xplane and featured in Dave Gray's book Gamestorming.  The empathy map was created to help people create customer profiles, but the tool is useful in many other ways.  Going through the process of developing an empathy map helps you practice interdependence - it helps you set the stage for positive working relationships.   After using the empathy map with a number of groups in a variety of contexts I can attest that the empathy map helps people connect with others in a magical way.  The empathy map forces people to see the world from someone else’s perspective and positions individuals and groups for positive results.

Here is how you can use this powerful tool.  Print out the empathy map (you can download it here), pick a person you want to connect with, ask yourself the following 6 questions, and jot your answers down on the empathy map.

  1. What is this person seeing?
  2. What is this person saying?
  3. What is this person doing?
  4. What is this person hearing?
  5. What is this person thinking?
  6. What is this person feeling?

By doing this exercise you, or the group you are working with, will see through a new lens and connect with others on a deeper level. Try it!

Question:  When you went through this exercise what did you notice about the way you felt?  Did you feel empathetic?  Share what you experienced in the comments section.