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Empathy and AI — Algorithms That Help Us Listen and Learn

Episode 57 of Transforming Work with Sophie Wade features Dr. Grin Lord as she describes critical discoveries while working as a research scientist and gaining expertise in conversational design. Grin shares insights about how AI and machine learning can augment human connection, improve therapy bots, and train leaders, managers, and employees to be more empathic.

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[03:12] Dr. Grin Lord’s scientific background and early focus on empathy.

[04:15] The extraordinary benefits of listening and withholding judgments.

[07:28] The national rollout and financial impact of empathetic listening.

[08:12] Grin finds the 3-day training workshops are not successful for forming habits.

[09:43] Grin transitions to coaching modality to change behaviors.

[11:21] Specific intense training rules for providers optimize empathy, engagement, and trust.

[12:53] Unnatural learned techniques have undeniable power!

[13:41] Self-awareness is needed to adhere to the rules and be most effective.

[14:30] With phone-based coaching, Grin starts using machines to support the process of learning empathy.

[15:17] Research and ratings evaluate provider effectiveness and how computers were trained to do it.

[16:40] Grin explains synchronizing—people naturally adjusting their language style to others’.

[17:39] How synchronizing is a form of empathy.

[18:44] Grin is curious about other ways we can measure empathy.

[19:49] Dr. Lord’s realization: we need to get outside of the clinical space.

[20:00] Grin wants to use her learnings outside clinical and academic fields and moves into the startup space.

[21:48] When the pandemic starts, Grin is working on a therapy chatbot that uses artificial intelligence.

[22:56] People start preferring to talk to the chat bot as it “gets” them.

[23:56] During the crisis, Grin starts her own company while looking after her kids and both parents at home.

[25:36] Starting with a game Empathy Rocks, Grin teaches coaches and therapists how to listen with empathy.

[27:03] The next step was applying empathy in different business and work situations.

[27:24] The powerful effect of empathy—or lack of empathy—when handling insurance claims.

[30:00] How empathic suggestions help managers give feedback.

[31:56] The next feature will direct users responses over time to relevant skills training.

[33:54] The goal is to give objective, timely feedback at scale, not to replace human interaction.

[35:48] Grin explains how mpathic is currently being integrated in HR platforms to improve communications.

[38:05] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: If you want to be more empathetic, start with seeing if you can repeat back what you heard when you’re listening, before you ask a question or provide advice.

[39:02] Grin recommends starting to apply a couple of simple skills in your daily life.