Roots of Empathy

Who’s still with me?

I found this quote on Instagram but the graphic was Googled. It’s cute.

I talked to a friend yesterday about this post. She was curious about what I had to say. I was more concerned about being too intense. If needed, just scroll back up and say ‘hi’ to the cupcake. Hopefully, it will even things out. 

I work in a world where empathy should be practiced everyday. This year, the company has placed empathy as an organizational value. Each clinic I go to, there’s this sign:

Empathy is

seeing with the eyes of another,

hearing with the ears of another,

and feeling with the heart of another.

I honestly think it would be helpful to start plastering posters everywhere: at bus stops, in elevators, have little stickers on menus in restaurants, etc, just to give the concept more exposure. Everyone should know empathy. While some are born with the ability to empathize, others can learn.

Empathy may be about seeing, hearing and feeling but what I think is most important about empathy is understanding. Understanding why people do the things they do. But, until then, let me provide a couple of examples.

Example#1: Everyone has something or somethings that are important to them. For one person it may be always keeping at $10 bill in their wallet, for another sleeping in a few hours on Tuesdays. I think there’s usually a reason behind some differences. Doesn’t make it bad but it helps to wait and try to understand first.

When my field buddy and I started visiting clinics in my state, we both unknowingly took the same approach. When we met patients, we found a chair, sat down and talked with them. We later discovered the patients felt more connected to us because of this. Everyone was talking to them about dialysis and what you should or should not do. (And we did do that after getting to know the patient.) My field buddy and I took the approach of getting to know them first.

I cheated a little. 🙂

Example #2: This is where I’ve been hesitating. I’ve decided to be more general about this example because it’s just too early.

Just before Christmas of 2018, the community I live in dealt with an unfathomable loss. It hit very close to home and I personally lost a lot of sleep. Obviously not as much as those immediately impacted but enough.

What does this have to do with empathy? There were a lot of ‘why did this happen’ and plenty of anger. Whenever the anger over what happened started, it was shut down. There were people who didn’t understand the lack of anger. Bad things happen but anger doesn’t always need to be the answer.

What you want may not be what the other party wants. Practicing empathy will allow understanding why.

Instead of a quote this time, I end with a link: Roots of Empathy is an organization focusing on educating children about empathy. I think it’s an excellent idea.

Embrace Hope
Abbi 🙂

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