Millennials are disrupting the world, doing what many of us haven’t imagined. They are earning wealth faster and challenging outdated assumptions. In the process they have pushed us out of our comfort zones. That is great but there is one attitude that they need to change as soon as possible – they need to be more empathetic.
Those who follow me know that I work with individuals and organizations to think bigger and reach higher and do what others never thought possible. This often includes creating a culture of compassion to engage and empower teams to become disruptive leaders. When we take the effort to care and connect, we can collaborate and create the ultimate performance, production and profits.
I believe Millennials are a breath of fresh air and our hope for tomorrow. However, without empathy and compassion, many of them are going to suffer greatly. I wonder what their future will look like.
Decline in Empathy
A fascinating new study has found that empathy has dropped an astounding 40% in the last couple of decades. That is stunning. For all their great qualities, it seems they have difficulty considering the world from other people’s perspective.
Rosin, a blogger for NPR, writes, “More students say it’s not their problem to help people in trouble, not their job to see the world from someone else’s perspective. By 2009, on all the standard measures, Konrath found, young people on average measure 40 percent less empathetic than my own generation — 40 percent!”
Why the Drop?
We increasingly live in our own little worlds. The smart phone is an incredible addition to our lives but also have a downside. They continually isolate us in previously social situations. Twenty years ago we had conversation where today we are glued to our phones. In fact, 39% of Millennials admit to interacting with their phones instead of people.
If we spend time only in our little world we will never appreciate the perspectives of others.
No wonder we are in an epidemic of loneliness and suicide. The more we get into our own little world, the easier it is to become isolated and lose our ability to connect. It is a vicious cycle. We may enjoy our isolation at first but all too soon we find that we have spent so much time in that isolated world that we no longer have the skills to connect with others in their world.
I know because I spend many of my days alone on the computer writing. It is nice because I don’t have to put up with the daily drama of an office. However, without purposely engaging others and seeing their perspective, I become more and more isolated. Those who remember the Unabomber from the late 1990s knew he eventually ended up in a 10×10 shack railing at the world. None of us want that. But that is a metaphor for what we are doing to ourselves and others when we are not empathetic and compassionate.
Why Do They Need to Change?
In a recent online study by Cigna found that 50% of respondents were lonely. Their scale ranged from 20-80 and determined that that loneliness occurred on those scoring 43 and above. Millennials scored a 48 while the elderly (72 and above) only scored a 39.
The problems with loneliness are significant. “Loneliness and weak social connections are associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day and even greater than that associated with obesity,” U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy wrote earlier this year in the Harvard Business Review.D
Pillay writes that there is another, even worse problem – suicide. “For people who fall into this age group, suicide is the second leading cause of death — more than cancer, homicide, diabetes, pneumonia or heart disease. And between 2000–2016, the suicide rate of the US working population increased by 34 percent.”
Being less empathetic and compassionate is a downward spiral that causes considerable problems. It doesn’t help business either. Disengaged employees cost companies valuable profits, time and energy. This generation has incredible talent and tremendous opportunities but the lack of empathy will hinder them.
That is why my wife and I authored The ROI of Compassion and will release Leading with the Power of Compassion this summer. People are hurting and that unresolved pain is costing businesses billions of dollars each year. Compassion is the best business strategy because it unleashes the ultimate performance, production and profits. In the process, it makes all of our lives better. How can we argue with that.
(c) 2019 Murfield International, Inc.
DO the Impossible!!!
Loren Murfield, Ph.D.
I work with leaders and organizations think bigger and reach higher to find breakthrough success. This is a process that I can help you learn. Begin the process today by contacting me.
Start learning how you can engage employees during their most traumatic moments in our newly revised and just released book, “The ROI of COMPASSION.” Watch for the release of our new book, “Leading with the Power of Compassion” in June, 2019.