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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert
Well, it's confirmed (again) - the SAP community truly cares about empathy!

On Nov 10th in Barcelona, the "Evening of Empathy" event welcomed a packed house of SAP customers, partners and colleagues eager to learn more about how empathy matters. A great big thanks goes out to SAP Mentor and empathy coach, slim, who led participants through a series of workshop exercises designed to take us out of our comfort zones, and to challenge our own biases.

(Left to right) David Ruiz Badia, Katarina Fischer, Seung Chan Lim (Slim), Jason Cao, Jitendra Kansal, Tamas Szirtes

Fellow SAP Mentor engswee.yeoh described his own experience with one empathy exercise where participants were asked to communicate what they saw in a picture only with their eyes. Other exercises involved listening, non-verbal communication, and personal bias. Needless to say these are all important elements to realizing empathy. Here are my own take-away from the evening:

  1. Everyone can empathize - it may take some effort and the expert guidance of a coach to help, but we have this ability in all of us.

  2. To realize empathy, we must take action - the very first action is to use our imagination. By imagining ourselves in the shoes of our counterpart, we gain insights that come from this different perspective.

  3. To realize empathy's true value, we must take action on those insights. We need to use this knowledge to improve our personal and professional relationships in order to see the full potential of empathy.

Here's a summarized list of impediments and catalysts for empathy that Slim asked groups to document as they went through the various exercises:

Impediments Catalysts

  • Distractions & interruptions

  • Fear of embarrassment

  • Fear of showing emotions

  • Jumping to conclusion/solution

  • Cultural/language differences

  • Envy

  • Prejudice

  • Busy with own thoughts

  • Tired, not being present

  • Superior thinking

  • Physical and emotional distance  

  • 1-way communication

  • Active listening

  • Quiet environment to focus

  • Similarities with counterpart

  • Common topics and goals

  • Ability to anticipate

  • Common sense

  • Fun (sense of humor)

  • Understanding roles & responsibilities

  • Trust and interest

  • Self-confidence

  • Safe space, being comfortable

  • Knowing the intention in someone else' action

  • Open communication

What actions can we take with these lists of impediments and catalysts? What is the relevance to organizations like SAP? As a start, being more empathic to cultural differences of customers means organizations need to take more time and effort to understand the practices and norms of customers in other regions, especially for marketing campaigns and even product design. Active listening programs with customers and end users should be a forethought instead of an afterthought for organizations who care about improving the buying and usage experience of their customers.

Instead of me going on, I'd rather hear from you. Are there any impediments and catalysts for empathy you would add? What actions can organizations take with this knowledge to improve their customers' end to end experience?

The empathy conversation continues. Stay tuned for a series of SAP Community Calls focused on less-technical topics such as empathy, Business Beyond Bias, and design thinking.

Here are few recent blogs and video following our Evening of Empathy event:
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