During the Winter term, I went to a feast event in Toronto on empathy which was hosted by ThoughtWorker @melgorka. At the event, we talked about empathy and how it important it is in the tech industry and others. The most memorable exercise involved listing the bad qualities of people you despise and reasoning about them.

Recently, I have been annoyed with certain people so I think redoing this exercise will help blow off some steam.

What I see

1. Self-absorbed
2. Untrustworthy
3. Melodramatic
4. Inconsiderate
5. Self-righteous
6. Mooch
7. Schadenfreude

What they may see

1. Busy with their own lives
2. Poor organization
3. Overwhelmed
4. Unaware of situation
5. Unaware of other perspectives
6. Needs help
7. Curious about other people’s lives

The opposite of what I see

1. Humble
2. Reliable
3. Calm
4. Thoughtful
5. Understanding
6. Generous
7. Supportive

I feel less angry now 🙂

Empathy is such an important skill to have as a human being. Although it’s not as attainable as say, learning to ride a bike, empathy can be acquired through much practice and thought. Being at a predominantly math and engineering school, I have come across a lot of students who lack empathy. They are studious and academically bright, but they struggle to deal with interpersonal problems. This is problematic when everyone is dealing with stress and anxiety to some extent. People often feel afraid and even embarrassed to reach out for help or confront a problem.

Unless you’re in a psychology class, it’s unlikely that you will be taught about empathy. I don’t get graded on empathy. I don’t hear my professors get excited about it either. How am I supposed to care? It’s not a skill companies look for! It sucks that empathy is taking a backseat in the minds of students – in education, an institution that peddles collaboration. Nonetheless, you can still become more empathetic. Take the time to listen, share, and understand everything around you. Empathy is more than an apology or reassurance.

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