Take a simple test….
Extend your right forefinger (left, if you are left-handed)…
Draw the capital letter ‘E’ on your forehead.
Did you draw the letter that it faces you or in a way that the person looking at you can read it?
Neither way is right or wrong. But the direction of the letter reveals a lot about your disposition.
Social scientists have used this simple exercise to measure perspective taking – the ability to step outside one’s own experience and see the world from another’s viewpoint. Adam Galinsky and his colleagues at North Western University’s Kellogg School of Management used the E test and some other techniques to investigate the connection between power and empathy. They found that while most people took the other’s perspective, those who had a surplus of power seemed to be connected to a deficit of empathy. They write “On the altar of action orientation and tough-mindedness, we’ve sacrificed the fundamentally human quality of empathy”.
Daniel H Pink, the author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us says: The key is to strike a delicate balance between action-orientation and perspective-taking. It’s not a matter of deciding between hitting your numbers or drawing the E. It’s a matter of hitting your numbers by drawing the E.
When we empathise, we figure out what others think and feel; this forms the basis for meaningful and fruitful relationships and the ability to see things as others see them.
So let us be MINDFUL of one another. Let us EMPATHIZE more and treat each other with RESPECT and KINDNESS.
And the next time, we are asked to draw a vowel on our forehead, we know what to do:-)