Sunday, June 30, 2019

Teaching Empathy

Empathy Can Be Learned

Empathy is a vital communication skill that can be taught. Children learn it most easily. But adults can learn it, too.

Wiki How has tips for adults to learn to be more empathetic. [] "Empathy is one of the most important social skills you can have. Understanding and showing concern for others helps to build bridges, resolve conflicts, and deepen your interpersonal relationships."

 Klare Heston, LICSW, Clinical Social Worker:Empathy is partly an inborn trait, but you can also teach or learn it. According to Klare Heston, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, “Empathy can be taught, but it might be slow going if it does not come naturally. Keeping a log or journal can be a useful aid, as can working with a friend who is aware of the changes you are trying to make.”
Check it out. You may be called upon to teach empathy in employee training or workshops or in your family. Simple exercises like role playing to practice listening, making connections, paraphrasing for understanding, reading non-verbal cues, loving kindness meditation, imagining what others are thinking or feeling, look for commonalities, use mindfulness during daily activities, read fiction to relate to others experience, volunteer to interact with different kinds of people, give people your full attention - put down your cell phone, share your emotions with others - use feeling words, respond to others appropriately, lend a helping hand to someone who needs empathy.

Read the wikihow article for details. Practice and watch how your interactions with others will be affected. You can change relationships with empathy. []  

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Can You Behave What You Don't Feel?

Some people say they just don't feel kindly, so being unkind is just their nature. Uh, no. Just as it is possible for us to feel angry without acting it out, so is it possible for us to behave with kindness.

It takes practice. When you slow down enough to recognize other's feelings and needs, you can begin to develop empathy. Then kindness follows naturally. But, even without feelings of empathy, we can do kind things. The more kindness we practice the more we develop our empathy. That makes kindness more than a feeling. It becomes a behavior.

Which comes first, feeling or behavior? That is our personal choice. We can choose not to do kind things, even when we have empathy for a person. The reverse is also true - we can choose to develop empathy for others while we do kindnesses.

Encourage those feelings of empathy rather than run away from them. You feel bad for the fellow asking for handouts, but you turn away. Instead, look him in the eye, give him a friendly greeting, even if you have nothing else for him. "Have a good day." Or, better yet, strike up a conversation about how he got into the situation he is in. Take him to lunch instead of handing him money.

I remember when I was working in one part of town there was an old man asking for help on the same corner every day. So I started packing a lunch for him. I couldn't spend time with him, but I could feed him one meal that day.

This week, pay attention to how many people you see that you don't know - and greet them with a smile. That's all. Acknowledge they have been seen and given the gift of friendliness. Try it. It is free of charge. It is interesting how many people are uncomfortable being greeted by you, a stranger. That is because there is so much unkindness out there. We can change that. Being kind to that stranger can start them feeling kind to others.

Pass it on.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Where to Be Kind

Image by TeroVesalainen from Pixabay 

So, you want more kindness in the world? Then you just need to practice more kindness. 
Because kindness begets kindness. And if there is a place that you think lack kindness,
that is where to begin.

Obviously you want to be kind to your family and friends. That's easy. But where kindness
is most needed is outside our comfort zone. Be kind to people who are not like you - don't look 
like you, or talk like you, or think like you, or believe like you. Be kind to people who are less
financially secure than you. Be kind to people who make lots more money than you.

Everyone deserves and appreciates kindness, even those who don't act like they do. You don't
know what is going on in other people's lives. Don't assume anything about someone you don't 

So, what exactly is a kindness? Pretty basic, really. Look people in the eye and give a friendly 
smile or greeting. Make small talk. Acknowledge they are there! For many are overlooked 
or taken for granted or just get ignored. Speaking to someone in a friendly manner is a 
kindness anyone can give.

Give up your place in line to someone who seems in a hurry. Help someone do something.
Give up your seat to someone who would need it more than you, an elder, a pregnant
woman, a parent carrying a child. In a store help someone reach something on a high
shelf. Help someone in handicapped parking unload their grocery cart and take it back to
Let a car in front of you in traffic. Be generous.

Kindness is contageous. Keep the kindness going. Spread it around.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

How to Create More Kindness

Image by John Hain from Pixabay 

I think we can agree that the world today needs more kindness. The environment in our country is rather unkind, more than ever in the past. There are daily diatribes about something in the media and in conversations. More murders, school shootings, violence against religions, racism, etc. It pervades the news and social media.

How can we create more kindness? Humans tend to reflect what they see in others. So hate and fear spread very quickly. However. kindness is contagious, too. When we create kindness, others who see it feel more kind. It can spread as well. We need to evidence kindness in more ways and more places to spread it outward.

The critical ingredient in kindness is empathy. "Empathy's most important role . . . is to inspire kindness: our tendency to help each other, even at a cost to ourselves." [The War for Kindness, Building Empaty in a Fractured world" by Jamil Zaki, pg 4]

Empathy involves sharing, caring about, and thinking about the experience of others. In our hurry up and fast track lives we often fail to take the extra few seconds to interact with anyone on this level. We miss the richness of empathy in our lives because we tend to isolate ourselves from others at an emotional level. We have become too busy to care or even think about others. We lose so much by this.

With whom do you have empathy? How limited is the circle of contacts in your life with whom you share at a level of empathy?

Are you kind? How kind are you? How kind might you be today? Tomorrow? Let's start a kindness epidemic!

Sunday, June 2, 2019

How You Can Make This a Better World

In a better world we can discuss different opinions without anger and violence. We can care about others with actions and words that promote peace. In a better world we can work together to solve problems and not be divided by the need to overpower others. In a better world we can celebrate differences rather than fear them.

How to make that happen? Simple, but not neccisarally easy. Be the change. Begin with yourself and your family. Develop empathy for others. Learn to see things from different perspectives to understand where others are coming from. Develop listening skills without judgement. Be grateful for what you have and comfidently share with others from your resources.

Teach your children and friends by example. Make the world better, one person at a time. Each person teach another, until major changes can be seen.

Make the world a better place by becoming a better person. And pass it on.