Empathy toward Blue Collar Class





Empathy toward Blue Collar Class

By definition, empathy refers to the ability to appreciate what other human beings are going through from the other person’s viewpoint. However, this definition is quiet restricted since empathy also involves relating and sharing another individual’s emotions. This could mean either matching their current emotional disposition or expressing care and understanding to such people. Empathy is closely related to egotism and altruism with egotism involving the expression of empathy for personal gains. Conversely, altruistic behavior refers to a reaction after witnessing an empathetic situation. A significant examination of the origin and intention of motivation factors in acts of altruism will provide a better understanding into the human behavior discipline.

Inhibitors of Empathy

Egotistical factor play a major role in inhibiting a human being from feeling empathy towards others. Human beings are naturally selfish. Whether using the theory of evolution or that of creation, human beings are naturally inclined to seek out their own interests above those of others. Therefore, an individual may be motivated to perform an act of altruism but fail to implement it simply because he or she has a different objective to achieve. An example is a manager who has annual productivity targets to achieve within his department. Such an individual may be motivated by the promise of a promotion that he may lack any empathy for overworked and underpaid employees. Similarly, he may experience a sense of empathy but fail to act on it deliberately.

Lack of experience is an unconscious causative factor of low empathy quotient (EQ). Empathy involves seeing the situation from the perspective of the victim or afflicted. This can be a difficult task to accomplish given that most difficult situations are not easily quantified or tangible. The afflicted individuals may try to explain the case to a concerned individual. However, this may not be effective enough to elicit the necessary empathy and consequent altruistic reaction. For example, regardless of the level of sentimentality, it is impossible for a CEO to show empathy to a factory line worker or even a bank teller. This can be explained using the above theory. From birth, the CEO has never occupied a blue-collar position like ordinary employees and therefore cannot relate with them. Most probably, the CEO may feel that the working conditions are somewhat difficult but he is unable to understand the extent and this causes him to be particularly harsh with unproductive workers.

What Needs to Be Done to Understand Other People’s Situation

            Numerous ways are available for the scientist and ordinary person to understand other people’s situations and consequently, be empathetic towards them. Common academic methods involve conducting surveys and processing the data. However, the most effective method of understanding other people’s situation is by experiencing it. If one cannot experience the same situation, it would simply be sympathizing. It must be understood that empathy is a learned trait that involves significant exposure to the aggravating condition. The famous quote “…you never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view” by Lee Harper in the book To kill a Mockingbird summarizes the need for direct exposure rather than using deductions made from a scientific process. Understanding other people also requires improving the socialization skills and activities.

Situations Benefiting from Deliberate Empathy

The correlation between altruism and empathy produces a wide variety of reactions that have significant implications when implemented. It is clear that empathic feelings within a person can easily trigger altruistic behavior. However, when empathy is a distractive factor, human beings may learn to hold back or evade these emotions. This deadening or even disappearance of the ability to feel compassion for customers may be a contributory factor in increasing cases of heartlessness among employees particularly in care-based professions. Consciousness of this imminent ineffective effort, for instance, nurses attending to terminal patients or visiting a homeless shelter. After witnessing such situations, individuals decide to evade emotions of empathy since they know this will prevent any resulting altruistic behavior. Endorsing an understanding of the methods by which altruistic actions are triggered, whether it is from reducing sadness or the evoking of mirror neurons, permits individuals to have a high level of cognitive control and consequently, their actions. Conversely, empathy-stimulated altruism has the potential of resulting in effects that are beneficial to the society. For one, it has the potential of increasing the welfare to benefit one person at the expense of the rest of the society.

The intensity of the adverse situation is directly related to the level of empathy extended to an individual. Empathically motivated people may concentrate on the long-term wellbeing instead of the short-term of the afflicted. A deep sense of empathy has the powerful effect of modeling and internalizing guilt within a privileged individual. Within a particular society, empathic conditions can be critically low when compared to the rest of the world. In such settings, studies have revealed that deliberate induced empathy triggers altruistic feelings that in turn facilitate the improvement of stereotypes toward marginalized groups such as minority races, people living with HIV, and even prisoners.

Situations Where it is easier to Judge than Empathize

            Ethics come into play when a situation demands for a judgment rather than empathy. Making a court verdict requires the application of the law in a subjective manner. Subjectivity involves eliminating any bias that can be created by empathy. Empathy is very destructive in the formal justice system since it clouds the minds of judges. The article “Identifying Judicial Empathy: Does Having Daughters Cause Judges to Rule for Women’s Issues?” by Glynn and Maya identified that female judges could be subject to bias in making verdicts on women issues simply because they had daughters. This is a good example of the effect of empathy. In such cases, judging the individual based on external appearance, previous behavior and testimonials of other people is preferred. Within the formal justice discipline, empathy is gray area that is both informal and yet significant in the decisions made by court officials.

Changing the Impulse to Judge

Changing the impulse to judge another person is a process that involves self-inspection and internal transformation. A person should reduce any forms of psychological traumas that would trigger a false sense of perception. Earlier negative experiences with people form deep emotional scars that cause people to form opinions of others without understanding the situation better. An individual should also make a clear distinction between sympathy and empathy if they expect to eliminate the judging impulse. Being sympathetic is unprofessional and imprudent since it means acting without the accurate information on the exact condition. Conversely, acting on empathy is far more logical since one has first hand experience.

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