Last month, we heard prompts that we are one of the least empathetic nations in the world. Or maybe it’s just a study pulled out of a drawer in 2016. Ordinary self-whip?
As I read such posts, I wondered. So why are we the least empathetic?
True, the research methodology should also be examined – how did the questions sound, who asked them, who answered them? The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan at the time, so we can probably believe its reliability.
Analyzing the research report, I also discovered this fact – 7 out of 10 least empathetic countries are based in Eastern Europe.
We can only interpret why this region lacks empathy.
However, I want to emphasize that while working with the Lithuanian people, I met many empathetic, responsive, and kind-hearted people.
I met angry people, too. It seems to me that said anger does not allow us to be empathetic, it does not allow us to accept others or ourselves.
Today we learned that the Lithuanian economy grew by more than 1 percent even during the biggest quarantine last quarter. We are business-oriented, smart, and hardworking. Why then unempathetic and angry?
Looking at people, I see that we feel underestimated. Hungry for acceptance that I am good as I am now.
We keep proving to others what we can do (it is not bad, we achieve a lot), but in return, we receive little positive feedback.
It is not worth talking about the hunger for such acceptance in organizations – it is visible to the naked eye.
And if we notice a mistake in another’s work (employee, supplier) – we shake the shoulder: “ha, mistake!”. Why don’t we acknowledge the work done, a lot of positive surrounding it, but instead, focus on mistakes?
It signals – deep down we feel worthless.
And when we do not accept ourselves, we cannot accept another, show compassion, because we simply do not have the necessary internal resources. When we starve ourselves, we have nothing to share with each other.
Speaking, working with people, I understand that many Lithuanian people were underestimated at school. Perhaps this is also the answer to the question of why Eastern Europeans are non-empathetic people – the legacy of the Soviet, degrading education system.
Is this national trouble? I wouldn’t say so. I believe that many children and young people today are being educated in a new spirit of acceptance.
By the way, for improvement, we need to accept and value the teachers. If they do not feel respect and acceptance, it will pass on the shoulders of our children. Recently, I heard a “Finnish” suggestion: it is forbidden to criticize teachers. I think it’s a good idea. Yes, teachers are wrong, but when we post on Facebook about their mistakes, they are happy to find mistakes in our children’s work. This is how these circles rotate in various spheres of life in this country.
Dr. Alisa Miniotaitė is a management and leadership expert, founder of UAB ALISA MANAGEMENT LABORATORY, Leadership Program Manager at ISM University of Management and Economics, certified ICC coach for the Baltic countries.