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Friday, February 5,2016

The Power of Empathy

By Mort Crim  

The secret of success in society is a certain heartiness and sympathy

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The boss was about as pigheaded as they come, and one day he called all his key executives on the carpet. “You people better get on the ball,” he fumed. “I’m tired of the bottlenecks around here.”


As they left the meeting, one executive whispered to a colleague, “Aren’t necks on bottles always at the top?” John D. Rockefeller was a different kind of boss. When he was running Standard Oil Company, one of his senior executives made a mistake that cost the company more than two million dollars. Everybody figured Rockefeller would come down on the man like a ton of bricks.

Instead, he called the man in, sat down with a notepad, and wrote across the top of it points in favor of the man. He then listed the man’s virtues, including how he’d helped the company make the right decision on other occasions.

An executive who witnessed it said later, “Whenever I’m tempted to rip into someone, I force myself first to sit down and list his or her good qualities. By the time I’ve finished, my anger is under control. I recommend it to anyone who has to deal with people.”

Blowing up may make us feel better.

Yet it won’t get others to do better. Steam only makes an engine move when it’s harnessed. Unless it’s controlled and directed, steam is just useless vapor.


National radio broadcaster and author of seven books, including Second Thoughts, shares his essays, which are like the voice of an old friend - kind, encouraging and filled with gentle wisdom. To learn more about Mort Crim and hear a daily “Second Thought,” visit


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