30 days do go to make a great start for 2017 – Let’s stick to SAP´s bold commitment to continue to drive empathy within SAP and the SAP Community – how do you practice empathy and why is it important?
With this blog I would like to reinforce the importance of empathy, share some of the overwhelming feedback from many participants and some personal insights of the Evening of Empathy in Barcelona after TechEd, as well as encourage you all to continue the journey around the topic empathy with the SAP Community.
I will call this journey the #EmpathyatSAP journey, a journey to which I want to encourage you to embark with the greater SAP Community, especially the SAP Mentors who have revived it with the recent empathy event in Barcelona. Empathy might not be on your every day’s plate, but joining the conversation might be among the most impactful things that you will do within this year – professionally and personally.
To engage and follow-up on what was shared by some of the participants please read, comment and engage with these personal impressions from the event: See Jason Cao´s Empathy Leads to Action, Tom Cenens´ Empathy at TechEd – I feel so alive and Florian Henninger´s X*Y=Empathy (or: my recap of this event at Barcelona) blogs.
How empathy energizes the SAP Community:
When was the last time you shared a very personal story or emotions with a stranger and built a connection? For the +70 participants at the empathy event, including me, it was exactly at that evening. A great thanks goes to SAP Mentor and empathy coach Seung Chan Lim (Slim) who made this happen; he included personal empathy stories and a series of simple but insightful empathy exercises, that took participants out of our comfort zone towards opening up, self-reflect and connecting to people we haven´t met before. This is where we took something special, something personal out of the event – that will help us become a more empathic person in professional and personal relationships as well as to comply with the values that each of us defined for our actions in our relationships. The event outcome was also to follow-up with our newly assigned peer, with whom participants shared stories and feelings. A set of simple exercises in a restaurant, following the motto “build bridges, not silos” managed to impact and lead each individual in the room to overcome own biases and prejudices and make this evening very memorable.
There are many great reasons to continue this event series in the next year. One of them clearly is leveraging this success story for other people, inside and outside the SAP Community, who´d like to experience empathy this way.
To me personally, this empathy event in Barcelona clearly was a cornerstone of my empathy journey. Not that the topic was unknown before, simply not that present. Slim made us proactively practice empathy, which made me reflect on my own empathic behavior – and I appreciate having put my empathy skills to practice and reflect on them. Now, the event learnings are still in mind when making new encounters, especially when empathy catalysts are met, such as a level of trust or honest interest in the other person. These can be reached easily, for example by finding things in common in a conversation, or feeling comfortable when you speak the same language on a trip.
And these learnings can be translated to the professional life. We interact and connect with so many different colleagues, departments and clients from different cultures. To every one of us being empathic is important to maintain a good relationship, receive trust from these parties as well as understand their point-of-view. But, being empathic to others also implies that you as an individual want to receive empathy from your colleagues, boss and clients in return. Again, an evening of empathy can bring all these parties together for a reflection on the relationships built, and how to be more empathic in those. We can even think of more opportunities to bring parties to the table for imagining more empathic ways of working.
By sharing these insights, I wish to raise your curiosity about this topic and encourage you to connect and share your personal or professional empathy learnings here with the community.
As for corporations, we just saw that this very same empathy journey has become more relevant in the recent time. Bill McDermott emphasizes the importance of empathy for SAP, with SAP ranking #10 most empathic enterprise – this is great, and should be a lever for the SAP Community to continue the #EmpathyatSAP journey; Continue the conversation and evenings of empathy for practicing empathy and increase levels of trust among each other and with customers.
Now, as for the empathy event in Barcelona I would like to amplify the voices of the many participants of this event that received it as such a great personal benefit and demonstrate what overwhelming feedback means, and what Tom Cenens described as “I could feel the empathy” after he left the event. This event paved the way for a great empathy journey that the SAP Mentors kicked-off and would like to continue with the SAP Community in 2017.
Feeling energetic after the event, many participants, SAP Mentors, customers and partners of SAP shared their feedback with me, I am looking forward to yours :)!