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Does she or doesn’t she?

Here’s a nifty little test of empathy, thanks to  Northwestern social psychologist Adam Galinsky and friends. Ask your boss [or anyone, for that matter] to draw the letter E on her forehead. Before you read more, do it yourself. [Index fingers work as well as pens.]

Now … which way did you draw the E: so it’s legible to you and backward to others, or legible to others and backward to you?

According to Galinsky and crew, people who draw the E so it’s legible to others consider others’ points of view–an empathic perspective–while those who draw so it’s legible to them haven’t thought about how others see it.

There’s more. In studying the connections between empathy and power, Galinsky and research colleagues found that when people have power, they’re more likely to draw the E from THEIR point of view, not someone else’s!

Galinsky’s studies were done using students, but Dan Pink draws some great connections to leadership. “On the altar of action orientation and tough-mindedness,” says Pink, ” we’ve sacrificed the fundamentally human quality of empathy.” Read more here.


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