Minter Dialogue with Maria Ross
Maria Ross is founder of Red Slice, a marketing and branding consultancy. She’s also a speaker and author of a number of books, including the inspirational Rebooting my Brain. Her last book is The Empathy Edge, How to Harness the Power of Empathy for Effective Leadership. In this conversation, we discuss how and why empathy can be a powerful tool for businesses, how to promote it in a business context as well as the differences between cognitive and affective empathy.
Please send me your questions — as an audio file if you’d like — to [email protected] Otherwise, below, you’ll find the show notes and, of course, you are invited to comment. If you liked the podcast, please take a moment to go over to iTunes to rate it.
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Music credit: The jingle at the beginning of the show is courtesy of my friend, Pierre Journel, author of the Guitar Channel. And, the new sign-off music is “A Convinced Man,” a song I co-wrote and recorded with Stephanie Singer back in the late 1980s (please excuse the quality of the sound!).
Transcript via Descript:
Maria Ross interview (time-stamped)
Minter Dial: [00:00:00] Maria Ross, great to have you piped in from, I’m hoping somewhat sunny California in these crazy days. in your own words, Maria, tell us who you are.
[00:00:13] Maria Ross: [00:00:13] Well, I am so happy to be here talking to you mentor. I know we’ve corresponded over email quite a bit before today, but I am a brand strategist and author and a speaker. I work with companies and entrepreneurs on crafting. An authentic and compelling brand story so that they can, they can engage the right target customers and clients. That’s my, that’s my bread and butter. But as I mentioned, I’m also an author and a speaker. I’m speaking on both business and inspirational topics, and The Empathy Edge is my latest book.
[00:00:46] Minter Dial: [00:00:46] Congratulations on your book. Of course. I fully loved it. and I really enjoyed it. I’m beginning to be aware of the topic. I hesitate to use other words, but some of the things that I really enjoyed. One of them, you said, was well watch documentaries.
I was always a fixated on reading great fiction and for having done a documentary. I’m like, Oh, that’s cool. And then the other one you, you enlarge in my mind was on go travel, visit other cultures, to discover more empathy.
[00:01:17] Maria Ross: [00:01:17] Yeah. And, and you know, what I loved about that was that that’s sort of all the tips around how to strengthen your own empathy muscle and start to practice seeing things from another person’s point of view in a safe environment, right.
[00:01:29] In a, in a non-high stakes’ environment. because if you’re only in the own, your own echo chamber of your own perspective, that’s the only viewpoint you’re ever going to be able to even see. So I, I love the idea of if you have the means being able to travel and experience new cultures, and as I mentioned in the book, you know, not on a three hour port of call with a cruise ship, but you know, actually immerse yourself.
[00:01:51] But there’s a great story I shared in there about a social entrepreneur. Named Dina Bookbinder, who was moved into practicing empathy as a child with a very creative teacher who helps the kids travel with their imagination. So, learn about a different part of the world, right? Postcards, learn about, you know, taste the food.
[00:02:10] Look at the practices and, and cultural habits of that community. You don’t necessarily have to, to get on a plane to experience some of that travel and some of that other perspective, which I love because it makes empathy more accessible to all of us.
[00:02:25] Minter Dial: [00:02:25] So let’s just talk about The Empathy Edge a second and how you got into writing it. What was, where did that stimulus come from?
[00:02:34] Maria Ross: [00:02:34] Well. I’ll give you the cliff notes version. But, around the fall of 2016, I’m here in the US we had a major event going on, a presidential election. And for many of us, it was a pretty shocking and, hopeless time. Just the behaviors that we saw. The interactions between people in our community, this surfacing of hatred and ostracizing the other and fear of the other. It started to worry me on a very visceral level. I, my son was two and a half at the time, and here he is, and you know, preschool learning about sharing and words are not for hurting.
[00:03:09] And you know, I sort of gotten this very existential like, why, what does it matter? You know. But the conversations I was having with other colleagues and with clients was very similar. Like, what do we do? How do we, how do we change things? Do we have to go join the Peace Corps? Do we have to run for office?
[00:03:27] And I got on this track of what can we do within our own spheres of influence? And naturally that led me to, well, where’s the biggest sphere of influence of all the place where we spend the bulk of our time, which is at work. So, how can we look at empathy as a way to lead, as a way to build a strong culture as a way to build an irresistible brand and a customer connection.
[00:03:50] And I was delighted that as you know, the data’s out there for how an organization benefits from adopting an empathetic mindset. The bottom-line benefits could convince any skeptic that this is a good way to run and manage a business and lead people. And so, I wanted to put that together as a case and sort of say, here for the skeptics out there, here’s the reason why this is not a soft skill. It actually matters.
[00:04:17] Minter Dial: [00:04:17] It’s funny or maybe crazy that we need data for this because it does seem so darned intuitively right. I think that the more empathic people obviously get that the issue, of course, is convincing the less empathic
[00:04:35] Maria Ross: [00:04:35] Exactly. And I think also we’re, we’re, you know, people say sort of why now?
[00:04:40] Why is this a time that we can be talking about it? And there’s, I think there’s a couple factors intersecting. One is that we are starting to rethink capitalism and leadership and business success. We’ve subscribed to this dogma for a very long time around, you know, it’s take no prisoners. It’s, you know, competition can’t coexist without, with compassion and all these other, you know, trite sayings and trite beliefs that are actually not true, and we’re starting to see companies break the mold. Many of them I profiled in the book that are having great success. They are showing that you can be competitive and compassionate at the same time. You can be kind, but you can be ambitious that they’re not mutually exclusive.
[00:05:24] I like to say, you know, cashflow, creativity and compassion are not mutually exclusive. And now we have these models out there that are showing us that, Oh, this, this could be something you could look at. You can, you can flip the script on this and, and still be successful and still lead your market and still innovate.
[00:05:42] In fact, because of it is what the data shows. But I also think with the incoming talent generations. Millennials, gen Z, they are forcing this conversation in business right now. They are demanding a different type of culture and work environment and the top talent won’t go to companies that don’t truly, genuinely lead and practice empathy, belonging, compassion, whatever name they decide to give it within their organization. And you know, I spoke to a generational expert in the book who, who in no uncertain terms said those companies that don’t will die because the top talent won’t go there. And if the top talent doesn’t go there, they’re not going to be innovating.
[00:06:25] They’re not going to be on the cutting edge. So, I just find that a really interesting thing that now I feel like there’s a little bit more of a reception to this message in the business world. Among the right people, among the people that are, that are innovative leaders and, and looking to change the game.
[00:06:41] And as they become more successful and prosperous and start attracting all that top talent, the outliers are going to get left behind.
[00:06:49] Minter Dial: [00:06:49] So I want, I wanted to jump in on another question, backtrack one second and do some level playing field on what is empathy? Because they, as I discovered, actually, they’re not only does, does everyone have kind of a different opinion of the, let’s say un-researched, but also within the academic circles there are different opinions of what is empathy. So let’s hear what your vision of what is empathy.
[00:07:17] Maria Ross: [00:07:17] Yeah. I ran across the same thing. Everybody I interviewed had a slightly different definition, and you know, as you know, if you look in the definitions over time, in the 1500’s sympathy meant something more akin to what we consider actually. And then in modern times, psychological thought has made room for the fact that you can have emotional empathy, but also cognitive empathy.
[00:07:36] Whereas sort of like. I can imagine myself in your shoes. I don’t necessarily have to be feeling what you’re feeling. So, for the purpose of the book, I decided to level set it and say, here’s what we’re talking about here. In the business context, empathy is a mindset. It’s not even a feeling. It’s a mindset.
[00:07:52] It’s a, it’s a way of taking a perspective to, to consciously try to see things from someone else’s point of view. And then where I go the step further is where it really matters is that you end up using that information to take action. Which is what I call compassion. In the book, you can, you can have all this empathy.
[00:08:13] You can take all this perspective, but if you don’t do anything with that information, it dies on the vine. So, in a business context, where it really matters is not about like claiming that the organization is empathetic or claiming that leadership is empathetic. And maybe you are, but what are you doing to take action with that empathy?
[00:08:31] How is that information of that other person’s perspective informing your next move. And that’s, I think where the real power of it comes into play. So, you know, you can have cognitive empathy, you can have emotional empathy in the business context. They don’t necessarily have to live together. but in some cases, you know, a leader might be able to feel what another person’s feeling because they’re so good at seeing things from their perspective, but it’s not a requirement.
[00:08:57] And I think when I talk to audiences about that, they breathe a sigh of relief of, it doesn’t have to be with both of us crying in a room together.
[00:09:05] Minter Dial: [00:09:05] So just reformulating those, this notion of, understanding cognitive empathy, and then there’s the, I feel what you’re feeling, feeling or affective emotional empathy.
[00:09:20] And then there’s the, there’s this notion of empathy, and then there’s the action that follows it. So, empathy plus action. Let’s put that in the bucket of compassion. The several thoughts. One is, does it, does empathy exist without perception of empathy?
[00:09:45] So if you think of like the sound in a forest, the tree falling. If I am being empathic, but you don’t perceive me as being empathic. Is that empathy?
[00:09:58] Maria Ross: [00:09:58] I believe it can be because it’s about your ability to take another person’s perspective. And even if the other person doesn’t realize you’re seeing things from their perspective, you still are.
[00:10:08] So I believe it’s still existing. It’s existing in, in your mind and in your decision making. And then you can take that compassionate action so that. Even if that person doesn’t call it, Oh, you’re being empathetic. All they know is they’re being seen, heard and understood. Even if you potentially are delivering news, they don’t want to hear, which is often the case in business. Sometimes it’s not about, I, I try very hard with my business audiences to talk about the fact that this is not caving to crazy demands. This is not giving in on everything. That’s submission. That’s not empathy. So again, if we look at it back from the perspective taking lens, you see, empathy could exist for you, even if the other person doesn’t realize you’re being empathetic because it’s going to be the action that you take.
[00:10:57] That’s going to make them feel seen, heard and understood. The words that you say, the actions that you take as a result of adopting that empathetic mindset. Would you agree?
[00:11:06] Minter Dial: [00:11:06] I do. And so, I, I’ve, I’ve been exploring this particular topic because let’s say you can try to exercise empathy through a one-way mirror.
[00:11:16] If I were behind the mirror, you can’t see me. You’re looking into the mirror, but I, I’m trying to be empathic with you and understand what’s going through your mind, but going back to your initial statement, which is really, it’s about mindset. And so, if my intention behind the empathy is decent, that’s a good starting point. Afterwards, the actions that followed because I’m still behind a glass mirror, may or may not be appreciable or feelable by you. One of the, getting into another question which I’ve, I’ve also bounced around and been, I would say, bounced off of, which is the power of effective empathy and I, I’m sort of getting to a point where.
[00:11:59] I understanding what’s going through Maria’s head is one thing and heart and all that feeling. What she’s going through is just a whole other layer. And to the extent that we, and I certainly have been focused on cognitive empathy as the, let’s say, the stepping-stone on which I’m happiest for everyone to stand in business.
[00:12:22] It does feel like it’s a long way. Yet the most powerful way when you can actually also feel what the other person’s feeling. Your thoughts?
[00:12:33] Maria Ross: [00:12:33] I would agree. I, you know, in my research on empathy for the book, I came across a book you’re probably familiar with called Against Empathy by Paul Bloom, Mr. Bloom. And I actually think that book was greatly misunderstood by a lot of people.
[00:12:48] But I mean, and he says it very clearly in the book. Look, I’m not against compassion. Like I’m not a monster. Right. But I think he brings up some good points where the, the. The affective or emotional empathy can have a shadow side.
[00:13:04] You know, where if you are, are paralyzed by the emotions you’re feeling for someone else, you might not be able to do your job. And as a survivor of brain injury, for example, if my brain, my neurosurgeon is so empathetic with what my family is feeling and thinking that it, it affects his performance. In the operating room.
[00:13:26] That’s a problem. Now, we still want him to be empathetic for our situation, but be able to be clear-headed enough and, and, and grounded enough that he can do what he needs to do. So, there is a shadow side of, if you’re making decisions based on just feeling that feeling that someone else is feeling, what if they’re in a state of distress?
[00:13:47] What if they’re in a state of, you know, such intense grief, they can’t think clearly, right? You don’t want to necessarily. Adopt that feeling and be. Be hindered in the same way. So, there is a shadow side to exactly feeling what someone else is feeling and in the moment, especially when hard decisions need to be made.
[00:14:07] But to your point, I think when you have that component of heart, when you’re seeing things from that perspective, that’s where it can really be powerful in business. And I use the example a lot of one of the most empathetic bosses I ever had. Male, by the way, and we can talk about gender in a moment, but had to lay off the entire marketing team.
[00:14:30] Now, was that, was that a decision we wanted? No, and the way that he did it, the way that he supported us, the way that he understood our point of view and provided all the resources we needed to be okay from that decision are one thing that’s, you know, where he, he had his cognitive empathy going. His emotional empathy was in the way he was interacting with us.
[00:14:52] And, and you know, his eyes welling up with tears and being supportive and giving us hugs. And, you know, maybe that’s not appropriate in every workplace, but you know, his ability to feel our pain made it an even more nourishing interaction despite. The news despite the decision that had to be made. So, I think, you know, and because of that, he is someone I still am, am devoted to this day.
[00:15:20] I consider him a mentor. We meet up occasionally. So, the power of that loyalty and that connection can go really far in the business context. When you do bring your heart into it a little bit more. So, you don’t have to, but you can exponentially reap rewards from that if you do. And if you, if you’re not faking it, right.
[00:15:41] Yeah. So.
[00:15:43] Minter Dial: [00:15:43] Yeah. There’s this notion of exponentials is what I think is exciting because let’s say that the getting to that steppingstone of cognitive is already a good step and we’re happy. Yay. And we’re moving along. We’re improving, we’re understanding people’s situations and feelings. We can understand them.
[00:16:00] You’re crying. Okay. That’s the situation. Yeah. I do believe that. Even in the case of your doctor, there’s, there’s another element to this, which is compartmentalizing and knowing when to do what to do. So, for example, let’s say your doctor, woke up and got into a fight with his spouse. I assume, what?
[00:16:23] I think you said it was a man. So then, well then, he has to put that aside. And then he’s got to do some surgery and, and so you, sometimes you got to put things aside and that ability to put your affective feeling, Oh my God, my nurses feeling very bad, or my patient’s feeling very bad. I’ve got to put that aside in order to operate yet do I believe that?
[00:16:49] And I write about this in my new book, that as a doctor. Your success, your outcome is as much, if not more, based on everything surrounding the surgery, such that the nurses who are working for him, the anesthetist, who did the work under the professor’s dominion. If he, he’s a doodad and I’m trying to use not a nice word for him. He’s not a nice guy. With all of his team will, you’ll feel the effects of that.
[00:17:22] Maria Ross: [00:17:22] Yes.
[00:17:23] Minter Dial: [00:17:23] You know, in the post op and the, you know, the pre-nervousness going into it and yeah, he’s very good, but he’s an asshole.
[00:17:31] Maria Ross: [00:17:31] Right, right. So, we use that excuse in business many times. Right? Right.
[00:17:37] Minter Dial: [00:17:37] At least he gets the numbers in. He’s a real ass, but gets the numbers in.
[00:17:41] Maria Ross: [00:17:41] Right.
[00:17:41] Minter Dial: [00:17:41] And I feel like that’s where we need to be here because it’s not, it is about how you get the numbers there. It’s not just getting 100% just like, it’s not just about doing the right surgery yet. When you’re doing the surgery, you’ve got to compartmentalize.
[00:17:57] You focus in, you got to zipped in, you’ve got to forget you’re your bad night, but your argument, blah, blah, blah. Zip it in and then right afterwards, you know, thank you to the team. Oh, I know you came in earlier than expected. Dear nurse, I know you cut your finger anesthetist and you’re employing empathy at that moment.
[00:18:18] Maria Ross: [00:18:18] Yeah, and I think that’s where, like you were saying, that’s where you get the exponential benefit of it. If, if you can, you can combine those things and you know, in, in my world of working with companies on their brand strategy, that’s what we meet mean by a holistic brand experience. It’s not just, you know, a company saying they’re empathetic on their website and we care about our customers, but then their actual.
[00:18:40] Your actual experience doing business with that company says, well, that’s actually not true. You know, they, their policies are horrible towards customers. Like, so, you know, we could think of airlines, for example, that would fit that bill, but, I think it is, but exponentially the companies and the leaders that can do both can show a different model of success that I can be just as proficient and good as, you know.
[00:19:07] The asshole guy who’s making his numbers, and I’m still making my numbers, but I’m also not leaving a trail of destruction in my wake. Yeah. And, and, and a bad personal brand of my own behavior and making a toxic work environment for all of those around me. So, there’s all these other benefits that that person gets when they combine.
[00:19:26] Those two things, and I think we’ve, we’ve subscribed to this thing for far too long of like, like we’re saying, where you accept that just because someone’s good at their job, they can be a jerk and it’s like, no, you can find someone just as good at that job who’s not a jerk. So, it’s not that there’s this limited pool of resources out there of people, and I think the more leaders and workers we can find that model, that behavior.
[00:19:52] My dream is that you make those jerky people, the outliers, who will not be tolerated by organizations moving forward. Like it’s not enough. Google did extensive studies on, not on people’s jerkiness, but on, you know, just looking at a resume, for example. they did a study a few years ago about what, what makes you a success at Google, and they studied hiring, firing, advancement data, and.
[00:20:18] Contrary to their own belief that you had to be the most proficient at technology, computer science, what have you to succeed here? It showed that actually know the people that succeeded there were the ones that were high in collaboration, empathy, communication. So maybe they were potentially less good at the, at the technical proficiency, but they were more successful.
[00:20:44] So even though you know, they even proved themselves wrong about their own thinking when it comes to that. Yeah.
[00:20:49] Minter Dial: [00:20:49] You talk about that. I really liked that point. I wrote an article recently. Do you hire human doers or human beings? And if you look at the way the resumes are constructed, they are designed to show what I do, what I’ve done.
[00:21:05] Not who I am, who I want to be. And so, we, we’ve created this malarkey. So, let’s, let’s, dig in on this, the less prone to empathy kind of personalities. So, if you’re faced with Maria a, let’s say a guy who’s a hard numbers guy, he’s great success. Why? Why, why am I going to bother with this? Convince me that I need to be more empathic.
[00:21:30] I know. I know. My shit. I’ve been doing this for 30 years. Look, my numbers are in. How do you get me to open up and then get, get with the clock?
[00:21:43] Maria Ross: [00:21:43] Yeah. I think, well, there’s a lot of data around that that I could talk about. so, from a, from a very, surface area. Teams are led by empathetic leaders or have an empathetic culture, increase innovation, they increase productivity.
[00:21:58] There are many studies that show that people will actually work longer hours for less pay, which is not necessarily a trend. I want to continue, but if they are part of an empathetic organization or have an empathetic leader because they understand that people have their backs and they are willing to make sacrifices as well.
[00:22:14] So right off the gate, right out of the gate. You get more productivity and more innovation from your team, even if your team is high-performing now. Right? The other thing is, in terms of retention and attraction, what we talked about earlier, these incoming talent generations, they’re going, they’re grilling these organizations about that and they don’t want, they don’t, they want, I think it’s 71% want to work in an environment that feels like a second family.
[00:22:41] So if you are a leader and you are trying to build a team. You’re not going to attract those people because of your own interpersonal behavior. So that’s another incentive for them. in some cases, there’s, there’s data around empathetic organizations that increase their stock price. They clearly increase customer loyalty and retention.
[00:23:04] So all of these things, even if you’re a numbers guy or a numbers gal, you should be caring about these markers of bottom line success. And saying, okay, I can get more of this by changing the way I interact with people interpersonally, by trying to get out of my own way and not just relying on the numbers and not, you know, locking myself in my office and not interacting with the rest of my team.
[00:23:30] Because pretty soon you’re not going to have a team and none of the work gets done unless you have those people there and they feel seen, heard and understood. So, I think that one of the big things is that. One of the studies that I looked at, which was the 2019 which came out after I wrote the book, the 2019 state of workplace empathy.
[00:23:51] It’s by an organization called business solver. They do this study every year, and the statistic around 72% of CEOs believe that workplace empathy drives financial performance is a number that’s gone up every year. So, more and more CEOs. Care about this, which means if you’re not the CEO and you’re leading a team, you better be on board with this because your CEO is starting to track this to financial performance and financial success.
[00:24:21] So yeah, I would love to just take an hour with those people in a room and show them all the data.
[00:24:27] Minter Dial: [00:24:27] So as I sit here in my office over here in Paris. I’m reflecting what you say. And I love this type of conversation because it makes you like, here we go. So, there’s this thing called the internet, new digital stuff, digital transformation.
[00:24:47] The, the, the necessary. Next thought. Well we got to do all that. Oh well shit, we met the customer’s important. Let’s be customer centric. Pays the bill. Parent is important. I feel like the, there’s a, then there’s a whole wave of, of washing around, right? Customer centric washing, you know, we say, or we say you’re important, but don’t we do it.
[00:25:14] Maria Ross: [00:25:14] Right!
[00:25:15] Minter Dial: [00:25:15] And then a digital transformation. 90% of them. These programs are failing. So, they’re saying, but they’re not doing it well. Now there’s this notion that empathy is there. So, empathy is good to understand your customer, customer experience, customer journey, and then you’ve got the internal thing.
[00:25:33] Managing people, managing innovation processes. How do you fall in on, on making that happen? Do you want to focus on the customer, or do you want to focus on the internal? How do you, how do you get a program, let’s say an empathy program working in an organization, you know, obviously if you’re only an organization of two, it’s one thing, but a sizable company,
[00:25:57] Maria Ross: [00:25:57] right?
[00:25:57] Minter Dial: [00:25:57] How do you articulate a program of empathy that doesn’t feel like washing and doesn’t fail?
[00:26:03] Maria Ross: [00:26:03] Well, in my work with branding. I’m always talking to my clients about, you cannot just paint, you know, put a coat of brand paint on your business and hope that it sticks. You have to brand from the inside out. And if you want that customer connection, if you want to be seen as an empathetic brand who sees, hears, and listens to your customers, that’s also something that has to start from the inside out.
[00:26:27] So it has to be in how you run the company so that it’s how people talk about an authentic brand. That’s what they mean. Authentic doesn’t necessarily mean you’re, you’re green or you’re this or you’re that. It just means you walk your talk. So, if you are going to have these better, closer customer connections and treat customers really well and say, you know, we, we hear you, we’re in lockstep with you and, and inject that humanity into that experience.
[00:26:53] What is the experience inside the organization? So, they have to go hand in hand. Often when I’m working with a company on their brand message and story. Inevitably, and this is part partly, this is my background as a change management consultant, is I don’t just look at the marketing. I don’t just look at what’s going to go on a website, and I say, can you actually deliver this promise?
[00:27:12] What are you doing internally? How is this impacting hiring? How is this impacting employee policies? How is it impacting, the rewards and accountability structures you put in place so that people that succeed here know the behavior that you want them to adopt? So that they succeed here, and it often ends up in a transformation project.
[00:27:32] Even if it starts from the marketing side, right? It ends up like, Oh, there’s a lot more internally we need to look at as well. and so I feel like they have to be done in tandem, but if you need a place to start, you may as well start internally and making sure that you are delivering everything that you are going to proclaim to the market and have that all set up.
[00:27:56] So that it’s believable and it’s ready to go. And that’s what I loved. The way I wrote the book was about three concentric circles. Number one is the individual or the leader. You know, my organization is 5,000 people. They are never going to change, but I can start injecting empathy right where I am right now in my own sphere of influence.
[00:28:14] That ripples out to the internal culture. And how the team interacts and collaborates with each other, and then hopefully that ripples out to the external brand. And now your interactions with your customers. Now you can’t wait three years to sort of get your own house in order and then hope it ripples out at some point.
[00:28:32] Right? So that’s why a lot of this, what I like about doing the brand work that I do is oftentimes it’s, it’s coming from the external first. But when they peel the onion, they realize, Oh, I get it. I get why. This has to be something we work on internally as well. So, the impetus is we need more market share.
[00:28:52] We need more customers. We need to have a better story in the market. But the result is that they then see how they need to transform internally. And that’s kind of exciting.
[00:29:01] Minter Dial: [00:29:01] Do you, when you talk about these concentric circles and start with the individual, what about self-empathy or how, how much of a place does that need to be as a starting point?
[00:29:11] Because let’s say I can try to exercise empathy with my team, and this idea of being wishy washy with myself too wishy washy. I say that because that’s the kind of filter people have.
[00:29:22] Maria Ross: [00:29:22] Right? I think, well, you know, I quoted a Buddhist teacher in the book about this whole notion of you have to have compassion for yourself before you can have compassion for other people, right?
[00:29:32] So you have to have, you have to have empathy for yourself, which sounds a little weird because you’d be taking your own perspective, but I think you do have to have that. You have to have that presence. To make space in your brain for adopting another person’s point of view. If I’m too stuck in my own junk about my own insecurities, my fears, my worries, my, my baggage, if you will, there’s no room.
[00:29:56] Every interaction I’m going to have with you is going to be about me. So, empathy requires that we get out of ourselves and try to see things from another point of view. And you cannot do that and you, you know, you have to put your own oxygen mask on before helping others. And so, I think it’s so important.
[00:30:12] That’s why my first tip in the individual section is about practicing presence and being more mindful of what’s going on for you. Just like you were talking about compartmentalizing earlier, you have to be a little self-aware about that so you can compartmentalize. Otherwise, it’s not going to happen.
[00:30:31] So you need to figure out, like in this day, before this meeting, before I deliver this message to the team, checking in with yourself and how do I feel and am I grounded and am I, am I, am I going to be open to taking an on another person’s perspective? So, I think it’s very, very important.
[00:30:49] Minter Dial: Beautiful! Last question, and I really think of this as a new frontier. Certainly I have not come up with a good answer and I’d love to hear your idea. How on earth do we measure empathy?
[00:31:02] Maria Ross: [00:31:02] That’s the million-dollar question. And, and I, I didn’t get too into that. In the book, there’s, there’s a few indices out there. There’s a woman out of the UK, you’re probably familiar with Belinda Parmer, who does the empathy, the Global Empathy Index, where she measures it on a variety of factors, including, customer reviews, social media mentions, programs that companies have within their own organizations and how you measure empathy. What I found interesting in my research is that every company has to do it their own way. There’s sort of no panacea of, of this is empathy and it looks exactly the same in every company. So, for example, some of the companies I profiled in the book that are doing a great job at a culture level, they might call it service, they might call it humility.
[00:31:49] They may call it, you know, treating each other as family. Although, you know, sometimes we’re, we’re at least empathetic to our families, the podcast. But I think that whatever your organization calls it, you have to just call it. You have to just articulate it for your organization and then say, what are the actions and behaviors around that value that are going to demonstrate for us.
[00:32:14] That we’re living that out. So, so one of the companies in the book, for example, next job, they talk about a culture of service, which is their version of empathy. And they have a very big flashy way that they, they look at, they have a whole peer nomination process. It, it’s, it’s something that goes on all year long.
[00:32:35] It builds excitement among employees, and then it ends in a. Award of flying. That person who wins that service award, they call it the Avenger award. And their family a trip anywhere in the world, vacation anywhere in the world. So, they’re putting their money where their mouth is of like, this is important to us, like to succeed here.
[00:32:55] We need to care about this. And so, I think that whatever you, you first, you have to articulate that for co for your culture of what? What is empathy around here? Right. What does that mean here? And then let’s then put the measures and metrics in place about how we’re going to measure that here. But that’s also the exciting opportunity is that it doesn’t have to look one way.
[00:33:16] It can look like whatever’s going to be the best thing for your cult culture and your organization to bring people on board. So long-winded answer. I think that companies are doing it very differently.
[00:33:29] Minter Dial: [00:33:29] It’s great. I mean, where I was thinking this thing is like, well, if I’m, my company has made diversity a key point and that’s, that can be a great one.
[00:33:39] I want to focus, like you were saying, the external ideas like innovation, the speed of innovation. Maybe that can be a really, you know, concrete seasonable. Element. That’s going to even please shareholders more obviously. Cause that’s, that remains another issue. So great to have you on the show. Tell us how people can follow you, Maria, get your book of course. And be in touch with you.
[00:34:04] Maria Ross: [00:34:04] Yeah. My main hub is red-slice.com and people can find everything there about the books. I’d love for them to sign up for my email list and get insights and inspiration. I’m on Twitter @RedSlice. I’m on Instagram @Redslicemaria. LinkedIn, of course, Maria J. Ross and I’m on Facebook @redslice. So, I would love for people to connect and let me know what they think of the conversation.
[00:34:28] Minter Dial: [00:34:28] Well, beautiful. Thank you so much, Maria. I look forward to our next life online. That’s the for now the way it’s going to be and keep preaching the good word.
[00:34:37] Maria Ross: [00:34:37] Yes. Thank you so much.