And what your answer says about you…
This is fun, and powerfully instructive at the same time.
Ask your boss to extend a forefinger and draw a capital E on his or her forehead.
There is extensive scientific research behind this.
There is no right or wrong way to do this.
Does s/he draw the E so that it faces his/her own face — backwards to you, looking at him/her — or does s/he draw the E so that you, standing in front of him/her can read it?
This is actually a proven scientific way to measure perspective-taking, the ability to step outside of one’s own experience and see the world from another person’s viewpoint.
People who write the E so that it’s backwards to themselves, but readable to the person in front of them have taken the other person’s perspective.
Those who write the E so that it appears backwards to you, in front of them, haven’t bothered to consider your point of view.
Researchers at Northwestern University used this simple test to investigate the connection between power and empathy.
Here’s where it gets even more interesting.
The study showed that while most people seem naturally inclined to take the other person’s perspective, providing people a dose of power correlated with their being less likely to draw the E in the perspective-taking way.
“Across these studies, power was associated with a reduced tendency to comprehend how others see, think, and feel.“*
They don’t say why, but suddenly a lot of what we’ve seen from our leaders — in our offices, in the corner suites of our companies, and in our government — makes more sense.
The more power one has, the less empathy one tends to feel and show.
While the economy really sucks right now, leaving employers with most of the leverage, that — eventually (please, God) — will change.
When it does, attracting and keeping the very best employees will become a priority again, even in Radio.
And the best, most talented, employees will be drawn to work with people who listen more than talk, who have the ability to see the other perspective, who lead with empathy.