Empathy In the Community
Sensing the emotions of others
by Mary Andres Russell
Empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, begins with listening. And empathy is a cornerstone of effective communication, strong relationships, and a thriving society.
How many good listeners do you know? Most people can count the number on one hand. Really great listeners are a rare find. While listening and empathy come naturally to some people, here are several ways we can nurture these skills:
- Begin by recognizing your own emotions. By understanding our own feelings, we can better grasp the emotional landscapes of others. This self-awareness allows us to identify with the experiences of others, laying the groundwork for empathy to flourish.
- Before entering a meeting or discussion, set the intention to actively listen. By approaching others with a genuine desire to learn and understand, we open ourselves to new perspectives and broaden our capacity for compassion. This openness allows us to build bridges of connection across differences.
- Give the other person undivided attention, suspending your own thoughts and judgments to fully absorb their words and emotions. Often we listen in order to reply rather than to truly understand.
- Keep the focus on them. Many times, we turn the conversation quickly to our similar experience, thinking we are relating to their story. Resist the temptation to make it about “me.” Instead, make it about them.
In a world often marked by division and conflict, empathy stands as a beacon of hope. It is the bridge that connects us, the language of understanding, and the foundation for a more compassionate and harmonious society.
The Links below will take you to Resources you can use with the family or within community organizations
to teach the Character Quality of Empathy.
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