Rethinking the mentorship mindset
Have you ever considered finding a mentor? What do you look for in the person who will be your advisor and teacher? Many people try to find someone who understands their background and situation. It’s practically intuitive, to want to sit under the umbrella of someone who’s been there, done that.
Researchers found that you may want to rethink that mindset.
If someone’s been in your shoes, studies show they don’t sympathize with you
In their studies, they found that people who overcame a difficult experience were less compassionate to those who walked the same path and made bad choices. For example, one of the situations in the study was about a man who was unemployed and turned to drugs to earn a living. Those who once been unemployed for a time were less sympathetic to the man’s plight than those who had never experienced being unemployed.
I understand this mentality. I used to work at a medical billing company. If you’ve never had to deal with the various diagnosis codes, CPT codes, and insurance plans, you can’t imagine the complexity of this. I know how difficult it can be to weed through the billing nightmare to find out why your plan didn’t pay. And still, when I have to call my own insurance company? I have no patience or empathy for the person on the phone.
Fresh ears, fresh eyes
What is the takeaway? For business-owners, it might mean that you need to rethink your mentoring program. Put people with different backgrounds together. A manager who has gone through something difficult should not their own emotional reaction be the response to those struggling. You’ve heard someone say, “I had to work that hard to get to where I am, so why are you complaining?”
Stop emphasizing your past struggles. Sure, you may have walked in their shoes. But to have the empathy to deal with a situation, you can’t remember your own path. Watch how you deal with people based on your own past.