Needless to say, I think it is one of the most important words in existence, and it is even more important to practice it- regardless of your profession. Even the NYPD is teaching empathy in their Smart Policing training for all of their patrol officers (really- see here and here from Commissioner Bratton).
For conflict resolution professionals, and everyone else working with people involved in conflicts and disputes, here's a short friendly reminder of why empathy is so important:
"Empathy should not be confused with sympathy,
which indicates pity.
In crisis intervention,
the goal is not to feel sorry for the person in crisis, but to
establish a relationship through effective communication whereby positive steps can be taken toward
resolving the crisis in a collaborative fashion."
from: Vecchi, G.M. (2009). Conflict & crisis communication: the behavioral influence stairway model and suicide intervention. Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association, 12, 32-29.