Poverty and empathy

Studies show an inverse relationship between socio-economic background and emotional intelligence.


In short, those privileged kids don’t give a damn how you feel, at work, that is.

Kids whose fathers fell from grace (Madoff, Skilling) committed suicide (former) or died a mysterious death (later). And we all knew what happened with Hearst and Getty‘s.

This brought to mind another paradox: parents can leave behind earthly belongings, but  can’t fill the kids’ void with stuffs. This applies to both rich and  poor families ( millions of rural Chinese children are left to be raised by relatives, while their parents went to work in the cities).

Mr Rifkin recently published a huge book entitled “the Empathic Civilization“.

In it, he traced human evolution, and recent discoveries in neuron sciences to illustrate our  latest stage: empathy. In other words, all those striving should result in better understanding of how others feel.

Growing up in a very narrow alley in the heart of Saigon, I know how people live, love and learn to overlook their differences. We have to. Co-existence in a collective culture helps distinguish differences in kind vs degree.

Back in the 60’s, there were a lot of experiments on sharing the stuff (and a joint too).

But that too became unraveled.

Then, corporations started to pay attention to EQ.

In today’s world, we need to pick team members who are smart (IQ), savvy (EQ) and sociable (SQ). Unfortunately, digital natives seem to progress better on the former, but lack later two (Emotional and Social Intelligence). Bad for business, bad for the overall performance of the team (which needs collaboration instead of compartmentalization).

Fortunately, the study concluded that those skills can be improved.

David Brooks mentioned that students in his NYC Class tend to favor data analysis and decision points.

Corporate training could focus on team building, small-group communication, sales skills (if you can do this, you can do anything) and internship abroad to groom executives with a global mind-set. Fridays (google) off to boost team “play” project. In our 24/7 interconnected world, where human resource now encompasses the globe, we cannot afford a huge blind spot (low EQ).

As we move beyond basic subsistence (food, shelter and clothing), Maslow observed that we next strive for love and understanding. Not just understanding, but empathic understanding of those from other cultures. Like it or not, they will be coming and living on our streets and online. A great attitude toward nature (with other people included) is a legacy worth leaving behind besides “stuff” for our kids, as they live on without doubt in an increasingly multi-cultural society. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/05/us/05census.html?_r=1&hp


2 thoughts on “Poverty and empathy

  1. hi Thang
    My I suggest a further resources to learn more about empathy and compassion.
    The Center for Building a Culture of Empathy
    The Culture of Empathy website is the largest internet portal for resources and information about the values of empathy and compassion. It contains articles, conferences, definitions, experts, history, interviews,  videos, science and much more about empathy and compassion.

    Let’s Find 1 Million People Who Want to Build a Culture of Empathy and Compassion

    Also, we invite you to post a link to your article about empathy to our Empathy Center Facebook page.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s