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Group Empathy

Futurist

Maureen O’Hara, 55, psychologist, dean of faculty at the Saybrook Graduate School in San Francisco.

Scenario

“Don’t believe all the recent buzz about the rise of the individual. As we move into the next century, both our work and leisure activities will require stronger team, organizational, or community affiliations. At the same time, basic identity is splintering.

“All of this puts pressure on people to be a lot more psychologically flexible than ever before. People need what I call group empathy. That encompasses a whole set of higher-order mental skills: openness to learning, a capacity for self-criticism, low defensiveness, and the ability to process multiple realities and values.”

So What?

“Coping with this level of complexity using mental equipment designed for a much simpler world creates massive stress. Failure to grasp the nuances of the group mind has real consequences for businesses: Group empathy is critical for effective teamwork and for getting a whole organization behind a new idea.”

Futurology Decoder Key

“Everyone must become a student of human nature in all its glorious complexity. Exercising new psychological muscles – tolerance, flexibility, empathy – becomes part of developing competence at work. That takes practice. Any coach can sense when a team is clicking. And he or she understands that the way to get a group to click is not by training individuals but by putting the whole group through its paces.”

For more information, call the Saybrook Graduate School at 415-433-9200, or visit the Web www.saybrook.org .FCS