Training Engineering Graduates: Focus on Empathy

In today’s competitive world where staying ahead or having an early lead often separates winners and losers, where competitiveness is not absolute but relative, where your skills depends on quartile you belong to, does empathy, as a skill, has relevance? Is it required for success in career?

Psychologist Daniel Goleman explains that empathy is “understanding, feeling and helping other with their emotions ”. But how does understanding others emotions helps?

Empathy is important for this very reason that it helps us to understand others better. Most of us have family, colleagues at office, neighbors with whom we share civic amenities and as psychologist Dan Ariley mentions, we take actions because of our emotions. Empathy gives us advantage in variety of fields like building better relations with co-workers, adapting to workplace with people from diverse background and gender, gaining edge in sales roles and in understanding customers better. As explained here, here & here, empathy can provide strategic advantages to business. As this article by design pioneer company, IDEO, outlines, incorporating empathy in design can deliver wider benefits to both companies and consumers.

Empathy skills can be improved as explained here. Developing good listening skills plays an important role in improving empathy. Scientists have linked empathy with oxytocin, which can be released by a simple hug. Another study has suggested a link between reading literary fiction and empathy.

Easiest way to improve empathy is to bring people in a group and get them to talk to each other. Encourage them to understand other’s perspective. In a company, this should start at the early stages of training. We, in HiSpark, make students work in team when in college. For more, visit

Neha Vashishtha, Ph.d in Linguistics. She can be reached at
Gaurav Tiwari, Program Owner, HiSpark. He can be reached at