Kindness and empathy is so rare, it has become an art form.

Ben Campbell
3 min readMar 3, 2021

I’ve worked with a lot of people in my career. Many of them talented, hard-working and on occasion, brilliant.

These are the kind of minds that can work a room. They can solve unprecedented business problems. Technologists, strategists, and people who know how to build business from the ground up.

But looking back on these experiences throughout my career, the most memorable colleagues all have one thing in common – they were kind.

The manager who brings a beer to your desk at 4pm and tells you to nick off and enjoy the afternoon. Grant Titmus, that was you.

The colleague with enough emotional intelligence to read the room, to recognise the tremble in your voice, and ask you if everything’s okay. Sarah Jane Andersen, that was you.

The C-suite exec who still has time to talk to you. Even though they really don’t have time to talk to you. Jane den Hollander, that was you.

The consultant who understands your predicament, your deadline, your challenges. And asks how they can help you push through. Stefan Burford, that was you.

All of these people — in one way or another — made my career. I delivered my best work with and for these people. Not because I felt like I had to, but because I wanted to. I owed them a little something.

But these people also had a profound effect on the person I have become. They encouraged me to approach my own work with a different brush. They taught me that no matter the challenge ahead of us, there is always an reasonable excuse to pause, take a break, and for a brief moment, put work to the side.

Unfortunately these people are rare.

I’m not sure why being kind and empathetic has become such an art form. But it has.

I’m not sure why being kind and empathetic has become such an art form. But it has.

Somewhere in the madness, we lost the glow in our eyes, the sparkle of our smiles, the mateship of a hand on the shoulder, a high-five, a hug. Not to mention the clattering of champagne flutes banging together. The latter of which would once keep the London business sector chugging along.

Now entering its second year, the pandemic has reduced our capabilities for empathy to that of a production line. Our Zoom calls have become impersonal and robotic. Team spirit has been replaced by Microsoft Teams. Corporate presentations no longer offer flighty ambitions, but merely information. Structured and undynamic.

With the world crumbling around us, it’s no wonder we’ve lost our souls, our spirit, our empathy.

It is harder than ever to summon up a smile. To support ourselves, let alone others. So you absolutely must respect the ones that can, and do.

And when you find these good ones — the oysters in the rough — hug them and keep them close. Better yet, keep hiring them. Build business around them.

Because if there’s something the pandemic has taught us, it’s that work is a hell of a lot better with these people than without them.

A shortened version of this post originally appeared on LinkedIn.

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Ben Campbell

Nomadic Australian, perennial traveller and lover of great coffee.