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Empathy Matters When You’re Making a Tough Decision

When faced with a hard choice, it’s comforting to think that if you can just get the right information and use the right analytics, you can make the right decision. But serious problems are rarely black-and-white, and tools and techniques alone won’t give you answers.

You also need empathy.

Put yourself in the shoes of the people who will be affected by the outcome of your decision — employees, clients and other stakeholders. Consider what you would really care about if you were in another person’s situation. Ask yourself, and others, what you would be thinking and feeling if you were among the people hit hardest by the decision. If you’re not sure, reach out to those people or to people who can represent their experience in direct, concrete ways.

If you’re making this decision in a group — as many tough calls are made — ask someone in the room to play the role of the outsider as vividly and persuasively as they can, so everyone else hears at least some version of the needs of the people a decision will affect

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