Low Empathy Can Be Worse Than Low Wifi

Worried About Your Connectivity? Then Focus On Upgrading Empathy!


COVID 19 has created a unprecedented dramatic increase in global video conferencing, without the requisite increase in global connectivity. When we think “connectivity”, most of us think of Wifi and Bandwidth, but how many of us think of Human Connectivity? The amazing video conferencing platforms like Zoom, WebEx, Teams and Google Meet, can connect our devices to one another but not us to each other, without some help.

To connect with each other we are in need of human connectivity which is empowered and sustained by Empathy.

Would you use your smartphone without signal, to have a meaningful conversation? I assume not, yet many of us click into Video Conferences without ever paying attention to the warning messages of “low human connectivity”.

Human Connectivity is how relationships are magnified and shared, how ideas are passed and how traditions are shared from generation to generation. We need to recognize that we are ever more complex then our technological connections. There is much to be learned, as to how and why we connect as people, not only for academic pursuits, but also in order to be professionally successful in a post Pandemic world. One of the basic ways we connect is through communications, both non-verbal and verbal. It is through communications that we can establish bonds of trust that allow us to move forward to establish relationships. From the non verbal interactions when people make statements like, “he looked trustworthy” to the result of verbal communications that lead to deep conversation and understanding, we are wired differently then our laptops and our smartphones. Therefore, when we use Computer Mitigated Communications (CMC) to communicate we must adjust our understanding and approach of what we are doing. Given the many studies done before the current crisis that have highlighted the various challenges as well as the increase of CMC via video conferencing, we must make this a priority.  

Our interconnected world has never had more lonely, angry people. Is technology responsible for a decline in human empathy?

Conversation is empowered and sustained via Empathy.

Empathy helps us to communicate our ideas in a way that makes sense to others, and it helps us understand others when they communicate with us. For the vast majority most of us, are designed to naturally empathize with others. Our brains are wired to experience the emotions that someone else is feeling.

Empathy is described as the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another’s position. The ability to have a conversation or a “real” interaction with engagement requires empathy. Imagine you are trying to engage in a sales contact with a new prospect via video conferencing versus face to face engagement. Empathy is the tool that will provide you with the ability to listen and engage and build trust which in turn will be the critical success factor in you turning the engagement to a sale versus a information exchange.

Success of Remote Work and Engagement during Video Conferencing are a function of how successful the involved people have created an environment of empathetic communications.

Even though we worry most often whether our devices are connected, we must also strive to better understand what keeps us as human beings connected in virtual environments if we are to be productive. The best advice to keep people awake and engaged was written years ago by the one of the masters of empathetic communications, in his best selling book, Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey.

“Seek first to understand and then to be understood…” 

Stephen Covey

If you follow Covey’s advice, you will ultimately try to understand the participants you will be communicating with even prior to a call. By doing so you are surely going to experience a much greater Human Connectivity even if your Wifi drops.

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