Practice Empathy

Practice Empathy

I recently came across John Cutler’s posting and thought it was interesting. There are always two sides to the coin. I enjoy how John called it out as “It really is about what people are ‘feeling’.” On this subject, Zhiyuan Zheng on our product team recently did a presentation that resonated with me. He says, look over the behavior but think about people’s motivation.

Seeing other people’s motivation is genuine empathy.
No one wants to be the problem. But under stress, people might be frustrated and want to express it. Seeing team members bringing in problems is not a bad thing. As a manager, if people stop bringing in problems, that might be an indicator 1) they don’t trust the manager; 2) they lost faith in the manager; they no longer believe the manager can help them.
Now that we clear the air about the fact that people will bring problems, it is the managers’ job to dig deeper— finding the motivation. Then guide and push the team members to be part of the solution. The more we practice this, the more it will become a habit on the team.
Let’s look at the other side, the team members’ perspective. Working with your manager is a two-way street. Imaging we only bring problems to our managers, expect our managers to solve them. The managers will propose something, and we might not like it, or it might not work for us as they did not have all the context.
What if
what if we bring in the problems and suggest multiple solutions to our managers? Now we can propose several options that are somewhat acceptable to us. And help our managers to think it through and collaborate on solving the problem. We are no longer part of the problem but part of the solution.


It is not an easy “ask.” But it is a worthy ask for all of us to practice empathy.

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