When Empathy lacks Integrity…

People are important…more than machines and technology! It is difficult, when many do not understand or accept this plain fact. They feel people can be manipulated, sidelined, used and thrown away…and unfortunately they ‘appear’ to be the opposite – very concerned and empathic.

In my ‘business development’ assignments, most of my efforts are people-centric – uplifting them, sales-train them, build skills in them and acknowledging their contribution and co-operation. In fact, they form a major role in implementing my ‘motivational’ leadership skills to meet the company objectives. But, I expect people to reciprocate so as to enable themselves and my business plan to take it forward. Well, that is how it works!

In one of my assignments, I had to streamline and update existing customer database, search and identify major buyers, establish new relationships to tap unseen opportunities in local markets for a crude oil distillate product’s (termed as base oil) sales. Well, I could successfully streamline the data base, identify new buyers and do the rest. In effect, the owner of the business operation, despite lack of funds on his side, could satisfy the requirement of a large MNC buyer in the light of my personal relationship established with the decision maker. Naturally, all this added to his existing profits. But, it is disturbing when he does not acknowledge the efforts taken. That is what I term as … when empathy lacks integrity! Because he seemed so understanding (using sweet words) to give me an assignment but did not prove to be trust worthy.

Empathy can be used as a tool for manipulation. This manifests frequently as ‘pseudo’ empathy, a social pose that disintegrates quickly if recognized. I find this being practiced by the insurance sales people ( many of them) – they try to strike up a friendly conversation with a stranger, probe for details, show ‘real’ concern – this kind of ‘forced friendliness’ does not ring true, if there is no integrity in their efforts. I do not understand how people allow themselves to be manipulated in this manner. Of course, I can understand that it is primarily due to their own helplessness or lack of experience in dealing with such people.

It is necessary to have natural safeguards against such artificial empathy – one should develop the capacity to sense when empathy is not sincere. And, research has proved that such manipulative people who are motivated by a Machiavellian (deceitful) urge to use people for their own gain – are actually poorest at empathy.

By contrast, those who are trusting – who believe that people are basically good – tend to be more highly attuned to others’ feelings. And, they are very successful in their team efforts, prove to be good leaders, are able to build lasting friendships or relations. Naturally, they ‘feel good’ about themselves too.


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