Week 8 of our Working Out Loud circle is largely based around the simple concept of empathy. I have been dealing with the concept of empathy more and more in my work, so it was especially meaningful to explore the concept in detail with my Working Out Loud circle colleagues.

When sharing resources in our Yammer network, I encourage users to post with empathy. I encourage users to imagine they are someone else looking for the piece of information they have to share. How can they make that piece of information easy to find? Where will it be stored? How will it be named?

Imagine a leader at Congregation Beth El has a membership policy they would like to share. Would it be easier to find if it was named “Beth El Membership Policy, 2017” or “BethElMemPOL.LGv.o2”?

Clearly, the second file name is a working title. The content of the file may be valuable, but a user may be less hesitant to click on the name, unclear as to what is in the file. However, the first file name is clear, easy to read, and easy for a user to determine its content. Before uploading the first file, the person sharing the information paused. They considered the needs of a person looking for this information. They wanted this information to be found, and used. They were exercising empathy.

In Working Out Loud this week, we took this concept of empathy and applied it to our efforts to connect with people, and grow our networks.
-Empathy over email. How can we word our emails so that the person we are trying to connect with will actually find the email subject interesting enough to open the email, and will find the email compelling enough that they will actually respond to the email?
-Empathy and introductions. How can we connect two people we know, and not have one person feel forced into a networking relationship they don’t want to be a part of?
-Empathy in sharing information. We all receive dozens, if not hundreds of emails every day, but I have a book recommendation I want to share with you. I really want you to read this book, I think you would  enjoy the book. Do I send you an email that simply says “Click on this link. I think you’ll like this book.”? Or do I say, “You have been doing so much great work with fundraising. I just came across this  book that provides lots of fresh ideas. I read it and immediately thought of you. Check it out!”

Working Out Loud encourages us to “lead with generosity.” When we network while focusing on what we have to share, what gifts we have to give (rather than what we might receive), we can grow our network much faster, and much more effectively. These lessons of empathy we learned this week serve to further the message of generosity.

Empathy is, in effect, a generosity of spirit. Though we are certainly focused on ourselves when we are networking, and focused on how we can grow and improve our career and life, those goals can be achieved by focusing on others. What do other people need? How will other people connect to information? What is of interest and concern to people in our network?

This week our Working Out  Loud group came to the difficult realization that we are 2/3 of our way through the process. So much has been gained, so much has been learned, so much has been enjoyed. I think these next 4 weeks will be particularly meaningful as we realize we will soon be on our own to continue these important practices and habits.

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