Working Wisdom: Is Apathy the Worst of All Evils?

Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all – the apathy of human beings.  
– Helen Keller (1880-1968), from her book “My Religion” (1927).  

Apathy precedes burnout.  As workers descend the burnout spiral, their original hope deteriorates into frustration, anger and apathy before burning out.  Why does someone no longer care?  Change is a double-edged sword:  the paradox of the excitement in the challenge and the fear of the unknown.  When company leaders ignore the emotionally draining challenges that accompany their workers’ attempts to embrace and implement the changes, once-committed workers feel devalued and depersonalized.  Overwhelmed, they retreat into apathy as a defense against the increasing stress.  All change is emotionally charged.  The stress can only be alleviated by actively embracing the humanity of those asked to change.  Science will not find the cure for apathy – but humanism can.

Working Wisdom uses my favorite quotes to think about work in a new way.

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President and CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., an eLearning and Coaching company focused on eradicating workplace burnout through the B-DOC Model.  An entrepreneur for over 25 years, keynote speaker, author, blogger, business coach, university professor, and researcher, you can see her “in action” by watching her TEDx Talk on YouTube.  To contact Dr. Puleo, please go to

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