Typically, people may think that the best person to approach about a problem or a traumatic situation would be someone who went through a similar experience. Individuals going through a rough break up or divorce would usually go to a person who also experienced it. The same goes for employees who were bullied at work. The premise is, since they’ve been through a similar situation, then they would be more sympathetic and offer advice on how to deal with the matter.
However, a research conducted by Ruttan, Loran Nordgren, an associate professor of management and organizations at Kellogg, and Mary-Hunter McDonnell of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, showed that people who endured a similar experience would be less likely to show compassion and empathize with others with the same hardship.
The team conducted a series of experiential experiments to look at how people reacted to certain situations. One of the studies they did was on how previous employees who experienced workplace bullying reacted or felt towards a person who has been having a hard time dealing with bullying. The Kellogg study also explored whether people who were previously unemployed felt compassion towards individuals who are currently unemployed. Both studies showed that those who experienced the situation, be it bullying or work challenges, are less likely to empathize with people who are going through a similar hardship.
This is very interesting and can be used as a guiding principle when building programs to support bullying victims or even training or mentoring activities.
To learn more about the research findings, click here to read the full article.