Leadership coach Peter Bregman writes in Harvard Business Review,

All of us except Mimi missed what Dana needed.

We tried to make her feel better by helping her see the advantage of failure, putting the defeat in context, teaching her to draw a lesson from it, and motivating her to work harder and get better so it doesn’t happen again. But she didn’t need any of that. She already knew it. And if she didn’t, she’d figure it out on her own.

The thing she needed, the thing she couldn’t give herself, the thing that Mimi reached out and gave her? Empathy. She needed to feel that she wasn’t alone, that we all loved her and her failure didn’t change that She needed to know we understood how she was feeling and we had confidence that she would figure it out.

I wanted every leader, manager, and team member to see that, because the empathetic response to failure is not only the most compassionate, it’s also the most productive. Empathy communicates trust. And people perform best when they feel trusted.

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