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COVID-19 Coop Up: Tip #15 - Practice Empathy

covid-19 empathy pandemic social skills social-awareness Jun 02, 2020

Happy Take Care Tuesday! 

As we continue to navigate these unpredictable and uncertain times, we aim for our posts to provide actionable information that offers a valuable resource to you, your family, and to our community. Today is no different. 

Tip #15: Practice Empathy

No matter the time, we are certain that empathy is a good thing. What exactly is empathy? According to Merriam-Webster, empathy is "the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another..." Empathy is our capacity to take another person's perspective and to hold their perspective as valuable. Empathy is both perspective-taking and compassion. Empathy is feeling with people, not sorry for people. 

Empathy is at the heart of being human. It gives us the foundation to care about others, to do good, to act ethically, to have professional success, and to be cradled by loving and meaningful relationships. With empathy, we create compassionate and thoughtful communities one action at a time. With empathy, we expand our capacity to live life to the fullest extent. 

If you missed our post on Social Awareness, which is one of the five competencies of social-emotional learning, we talk about empathy as being a critical skill that helps direct and guide our behavior based on the situation at hand. Doing this allows us to balance what we know about ourselves (self-awareness) and what we know about others in order to make the best decisions with our actions. This skill sets us up for success in all of our relationships across all situations.

The good news is, empathy is a skill that can be developed by most people on this planet. With practice, empathy can be taught and improved, and with this one skill making such a positive impact on one's life, there's nothing to lose and a lot to gain. 

5 Ways to build empathy now

  1. Ask your kiddo, a friend, or a significant other how their day was with full attention and interest. Show curiosity and listen with your whole body. 
  2. Contribute to your community by reading about a local charity and making a donation. Better yet, can you offer some time and serve with this organization?
  3. Make kindness and caring for others a priority. With school ending and grades coming out, make sure to ask teachers if your child was caring and kind to other students, teachers, and staff. Look beyond the academic results. 
  4. Think about a recent conflict you've had with another person and take their perspective. Did you learn anything?
  5. Pick a current news headline and brainstorm on what experiences or perspectives might have shaped the story. 

As an added bonus, check out this cool video on empathy, where The RSA takes Brene Brown's audio on empathy and illustrates it. Love.

We are big believers in the power of feelings and that all of us feel. If empathy is hard to come by, it may not be because someone doesn't have it, but because anger or shame may be blocking it. Every person is valuable and has a voice.


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