The science of empathy—and why some people have it less than others

Empathy is hot in business wisdom these days: Forbes says it’sinvaluable, Apple’s training manual offers empathy exercises, and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson calls caring “key.”

Corporate empathy is not an oxymoron,” concluded an article in theHarvard Business Review on January 8. “It is a hard skill that should be required from the board-room to the shop floor…”

We know empathy can be taught and that committed leaders can create a more empathetic and compassionate corporate culture. Empathy is the oil that keeps relationships flowing smoothly. It creates bonds of trust, which result in higher-quality teamwork.

Numerous studies link empathy to better business results. We believe it is important to continue to inculcate empathy and compassion at work.

Loran Nordgren 
Associate professor, Northwestern University
Rachel Ruttan
PhD candidate, Northwestern University