I came across a very interesting presentation done by a prominent Account Planner, Leland Maschmeyer. He had made a speech at Princeton University about the importance of empathy in communication. His presentation discusses how the communication has been getting easier between people, yet at the same time, there is an increase in anomie. So how can this contradictory juxtaposition occur? From the beginning of time, face to face conversation and being apart of a community was how people bond with each other. Today, with the internet, people become focused on communicating and being with like-minded people. This silo-like approach, can result in groupthink. It also creates factions within communities.
Mr. Maschmeyer, talked about Relational Art. Traditional Art is about creating what the artist is trying to express, whereas, Relational Art is about the artist creating conditions where people interact with each other as a result of objects or places For example, artists that make living spaces where people can interact with each other.
In the end, relational art makes people more aware of their surroundings and enable them to empathize more with others around them. Empathy knocks down silos and creates harmony and understanding as well as respect for other people’s viewpoints. In fact, with a greater number of viewpoints, it makes decision making and problem solving so much richer.
A relevant example of a lack of empathy for communications would be the political wrangling on Capitol Hill. The lack of consensus between parties and even within parties for an economic recovery plan as well as the partisan smears is detrimental to the people.