Unless this is our first interaction, you may already be familiar with our empathy-led approach to business. Empathy is the throughline that stitches together our work and everything we do at grio. But what is it about empathy that makes it such a powerful driving force for business?
What we call reality is merely our brain’s interpretation of the external world through our senses. What we perceive is also distorted by our beliefs, values, moods and a myriad of other filters. We mistake (our) reality as objective because we all use the same tools to create it and because we have an egocentric view of the world. However, reality is subjective and there’s a gap that separates our experience and that of other people.
We have no direct access to the experience of other human beings– their beliefs, thoughts, emotions, desires or fears. To bridge the gap, we use empathy, which is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
It’s literally impossible to see things from the perspective of other people. The next best thing is to use our memory or imagination to put ourselves in their shoes. In our attempt to relate and understand other people, we often have to simulate how we would feel or behave in the same situation. That’s how we give advice to family and friends or how we can relate to someone with whom we seemingly have nothing in common.
This egocentric trap presents an interesting challenge for entrepreneurs who by definition have to create products and services that other people will find useful or meaningful; marketers who have to communicate the benefits of those products or services, and create experiences for others to enjoy; and managers who have to inspire and motivate employees to leverage their gifts and talents to contribute to a cause.
Until machines with artificial intelligence start creating and running companies, businesses will continue to be run by people with an egocentric view of the world. The implication here isn’t that machines would do a better job than people, simply that human nature often compromises our ability to make sound decisions.
At grio, we are creating an empathy-led framework to help clients escape their egocentric trap. We provide insights and tools to help them deploy empathy for those they seek to serve. Our goal is to help them realize that their fate is intertwined with the fates of their employees and customers. To win, they must challenge their egocentric view of the world and escape the grip of their selfish impulses and biases to fulfill the needs, wants and aspirations of those employees and customers. That’s empathy-led business.