Robin Williams Provides Lesson in Empathy

I’m a huge fan of Robin Williams’ work. He was a brilliant artist who unfortunately lost his battle with internal demons.

I remember many scenes from his movies and TV appearances, but nothing is more vivid to me than one of his discussions with Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting. Williams plays a psychologist who is trying to help a brilliant, yet troubled inner-city Boston kid (WIll Hunting played by Matt Damon). In this scene on a bench in the Boston Public Garden, Williams is explaining to Damon the difference between intellectual knowledge and emotional understanding.

Here’s an excerpt from the beginning….

“So if I asked you about art, you’d probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life’s work, political aspirations, him and the Pope, sexual orientation, the whole works, right? But I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You’ve never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling. Seen that…”

The scene provides a parallel commentary on the difference between analytics and empathy.

The bottom line: RIP Robin Williams. May the spark you brought to our lives continue to live on.

Written by 

I am an experience management transformist, helping organizations improve business results by engaging the hearts and minds of their customers, employees, and partners. My "job" is Head of the Qualtrics XM Institute. The Institute is still being established, but our goal is to help organizations around the world thrive by mastering Experience Management (XM). As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. Prior to joining Qualtrics, I was managing partner of Temkin Group (leading CX research, advisory, and training firm), co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), and a VP at Forrester Research. I'm a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Check out my LinkedIn profile: www.linkedin.com/in/brucetemkin

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