EMPATHY – The Secret Weapon for Thriving in a Divided World!

EMPATHY - The Secret Weapon for Thriving in a Divided World!

EMPATHY – The Secret Weapon for Thriving in a Divided World!

EMPATHY: The Secret Weapon for Thriving in a Divided World!  In this episode, we talk about a surprising conversation that opened my eyes to the importance of EMPATHY… especially right now!  (That’s right… 2020!)  In this episode, you and I take a deep dive into the power of empathy.  But more importantly, we give you some tools, some strategies and some science!  Plus, we introduce you to the idea of “JOY SHARING.”  That’s right!  It’s a concept that can help you to experience more joy and share it with others too!  I think you’re going to dig it… so let’s get to it!

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  • 0:02 What to expect today
  • 1:15 Storytime
  • 4:48 The power of empathy
  • 7:34 Healing division
  • 11:57 Empathy’s connection to happiness
  • 14:24 One of Mitch’s favorite quotes
  • 18:56 Share more joy feel more joy
  • 21:19 Connect with Mitch


Over the 4th of July… our family got together with one of our favorite people… Ben Stein.  He’s a history teacher our boys had.  He has a true passion for history, government, politics and the human condition.  We got together… socially distanced and safely of course.  We got caught up and then we did what we do… we started to talk HISTORY and current events. 

We had an AWESOME conversation. We didn’t agree on everything… but we brought up issues of the day… as well as linked stories to our history.  Some of the stuff… we totally agreed on and some of the stuff… we didn’t.  

But we were able to have this deep… enlightening… fun… awesome conversation.  Family was there.  We were pigging out on all sorts of unhealthy food too.  Which I’m sure helped.

But at one point… I asked a question.  It was partly hypothetical… and partly because I legitimately was open to his answer.

I said, “Okay… we’ve talked about a ton of different issues… some of which we’ve agreed on and some not so much, but it’s been amazing. You’ve opened my eyes to some things, and I think I may have pointed you to a few things too.  

What’s at the heart of that?

He responded with one word.  “Empathy.”

We were willing to have empathy for each other.

It was sooooo true!  Now… I’m fascinated by psychology, communication and interpersonal dynamics.  I get lost in leadership theory.  So, of course, I knew the word.  But in that moment… it just hit me.  It was a truth I needed to be reminded of!


In the moment… I totally agreed… and then we moved on to more topics.  But the concept of empathy stuck with me.  So I kept digging into it.  And some of the things I’ve found led me to believe that it is truly the Secret Weapon for Thriving in a Divided World!

Seriously… I don’t want to over hype it… but the growing science and understanding behind EMPATHY is incredible.  I dug in and I wanted to share a little bit of you… so you could understand this Secret Weapon better… and use it more.

Because when you understand empathy… you tend to connect with people at deeper levels, you create more trust AND… some new research is pointing to how empathy can actually make you a happier person too! 

So let’s dive in. 


One Definition for empathy is:

“The ability to understand the feelings of another.”

It does NOT mean you need to agree… but simply the willingness and ability to understand and honor the feelings of another person. 

Another definition is: “The ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling.”

A third says, “Empathy is simply listening, holding space, withholding judgement, and emotionally connecting with another human being.”

And right now… this is sooooo needed and sooooo healing!

Let’s go further: 

Dr. Oz says, “The Opposite of anger is not calmness, it’s empathy.”

Let’s keep going.  

Let’s talk BUSINESS… Because… that’s right.  Empathy isn’t just a relationship tool… it’s a business tool too!  Branding expert Don Peppers says…  

“Empathy is the ultimate form of customer insight.”  


But here’s the thing.  Empathy is POWERFUL.  It’s something that helps us to move towards COMMON GROUND.  Finding Common Ground is soooooo powerful!

Madeleine Albright – the first female secretary of State for the US once said,  “No matter what message you are about to deliver somewhere, whether it is holding out a hand of friendship, or making clear that you disapprove of something, is the fact that the person sitting across the table is a human being, so the goal is to always establish common ground.”

Leadership Expert – Steve Gutzler said,  “Leaders who manage conflict best are able to draw out the best in all parties and understand different perspectives in finding common ground.”

Now… we’ve talked about empathy before… and questions we can ask ourselves to be able to better connect with and to better understand someone.  To look for that common ground.

EMPATHY Questions to help you get there.

  • Even though it might seem impossible… where might we actually agree?
  • Where might we be passionate about the same things?
  • What’s something I can respect about this person?

It’s true.  Empathy is a true tool for leadership!  In fact, Oprah Winfrey said, “Leadership is about empathy.  It is about having the ability to relate to and connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives.”  

So… empathy connects with creating common ground AND it helps with leadership and business.  But as I kept digging I found a somewhat surprising link to happiness. 


Here’s an anonymous quote I love: 

“It’s easy to find reasons for division between people.  

Finding common ground is harder, 

but it represents a critical step towards true happiness.”

Anne Frank once said, 

“We all live with the objective of being happy,

our lives are all different and yet the same.”

Mother Teresa said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” 

So… some would argue… me included… that empathy and finding common ground can actually lead to more happiness.  

This may be surprising to some since empathy is a great tool for connecting with others… but often it’s thought of in TOUGH situations.  Connecting with a difficult employee.  Connecting with a friend who’s going through a death in the family.  Connecting with a family member who’s dealing with a set back.  

That’s all true and empathy can help in those situations.  BUT empathy can also be linked to YOU experiencing more joy too!  In some respects by being able to deeply connect with others.  In fact, Henry David Thoureau once said,  “Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?”  

But research is showing us that empathy can actually… tangibly… allow us to experience more joy.  AND help others to feel it too.  It’s something we’re calling “JOY SHARING.”

Researchers from Israel studied what happens in the brain when we empathize.  What sets the study apart from others is that neural responses to sharing another’s joy were explored as well as neural responses to sharing another’s distress.  Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the researchers found that the same parts of the brain are used to empathize with distress and with joy.  Results showed that humans have an ability to connect and have an intense response… when a person is interacting with someone feeling distress AND when they’re feeling joy.  Now the MRI scans showed a more intense response when interacting with someone in distress… but it still recognized a response when interacting with someone feeling joy.

Writer and researcher, Dr. Carrie Steckl… dug further into this subject.  She talked about the power of training our brain to actually share in someone’s Joy.


That’s right… share the joy.

The thought is… both people would benefit.  

For example…

If someone shares a win with you… like they won an award.  Don’t just pass it off.  Don’t move on quickly.  Stay with them in it.  Ask them about it.  Ask about the award itself.  What did they do to win it?  What inspired them to stay with it?  

As you do… you’ll help them to feel more joy about the award… and quite possibly experience more yourself!

Or if someone shares about something that went well at work… look them in the eye… and ask them some follow up questions.  Be curious.  Engage.  Celebrate and feel the joy WITH them!

Or… if you see a fun update from someone on social media… share that and brag on your friend. 

This research shows that you can actually SHARE the joy.  JOY SHARING.

It’s funny.  I was trying to come up with a term to call that feeling.  “Joy jacking” seemed too violent.  “Joy Coupling” seemed… ummm… errrr… sexual.  But I was talking with my awesome team member Lindsay Palmer and she nailed it.  She said, since you share in the joy… why not call it “a joy share?”  How cool is that?  So that is what we’re going with!


So… an assignment for this week is to keep empathy in mind.  Be fully present and meet someone right where they’re at.  Feel it.  Create some common ground and connect at a deeper level… even in these “divided times.”

And… if you want to take things to the next level… try a “joy share” exercise.  As someone shares a win with you… meet them in that.  Ask them about it.  Celebrate them and their accomplishment… big or small.  Do it authentically… and from the heart.  And… as you do… there’s a very good chance you’ll feel that joy deep down too!  And hey… the more we do this… we might just feel some more joy AND start to heal some of this division in the world… while we’re at it!


AND speaking of creating common ground… speaking of empathy… and speaking of spreading more joy… we have a BIG project that we’re launching for September and we want you to be a part of it!  I’ll share it on next week’s episode… so be watching for it… and be watching my social too.  I think it’s one of the most important things we’ve ever done with DREAM THINK DO and I can’t wait to DO this thing with you!


Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.  AND let me know how the “experiment” goes.  I can’t wait to hear from YOU!!!

  • Dale Ehrenheim
    Posted at 16:04h, 21 August Reply

    Empathy is so critical to understanding. A key component to gaining more empathy is to be able to actively listen. When we listen actively, we can better understand others.

    • Mitch Matthews
      Posted at 16:48h, 21 August Reply

      Agreed Dale! 100%!!! Great addition my friend!

  • Jessica Woodard
    Posted at 00:54h, 17 September Reply

    Ah, empathy! Yes! My mom and I were just talking about this today. The best (and occasionally the only) way to not allow ourselves to be sucked into rage and despair with all the division in our country right now, is to try to live each moment with empathy. And I don’t think it’s enough to just go to the empathy when things are hard. I think the real magic happens when you LEAD with empathy, right from the start.

    And yes to joy share! Celebrating each other’s victories elevates each individual, and the community as a whole!

    • Mitch Matthews
      Posted at 10:08h, 17 September Reply

      Jessica – LOVE it. Soooooo glad it resonated!!! Thanks for the “Joy Share!” You’re awesome.

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