Jamil Zaki is a professor of psychology at Stanford University, director of the Stanford Social Neuroscience Lab and teaches the popular course, Becoming Kinder, designed to address the empathy crisis and “fight back against the increasing trend of polarization and disconnection.” For the last 15 years, Jamil has probed how empathy works, how it helps people and situations that make empathy harder, demonstrating that empathy is a skill, like all other leadership skills, that can be worked on and improved through practice.
Through his research, Jamil Zaki and his colleagues have developed techniques and interventions to improve empathy at schools, hospitals, workplaces, and beyond. His recent book, The War for Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World, explores why it feels harder than ever to connect with each other, how we can overcome modern barriers to empathy, and why we should and must try. His writings on the role of empathy in all forays of life have appeared in leading publications including The Scientific American, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, and Harvard Business Review.
In this episode of Intersections, Prof. Hitendra Wadhwa has a conversation with Jamil Zaki on the topic “Building Empathy in a Fractured World”.
Our struggles as a society touched new peaks in the past year, from the pandemic, racial injustice, economic collapse, ideological differences, and more, leading to heightened feelings of anger, intolerance, fear and stress. At work, we feel more disconnected than ever with our colleagues and find it hard to express our concerns or grow stronger relationships. In our fractured world, when it is more urgent than ever to come together as a race and uplift each other, empathy has become a radical act.
The episode “Building Empathy in a Fractured World” offers key insights on: