Empathy is More Than A Two Day Seminar.
The Empathy Course literature promises so much; nail these two definitions and you’ll qualify for the empathy badge:
- Empathy is simply recognising emotions in others, and being able to “put yourself in another person’s shoes” – understanding the other person’s perspective and reality.
- To be empathetic, you have to think beyond yourself and your own concerns.
In reality, to wear the Empathy badge with any degree of integrity or deservedness requires day to day vigilance in the crucible of human interaction.
Our societal obsession with instant fix and instant results may lead to unrealistic expectations or disappointment.
Being earnestly empathetic is the day to day heavy lifting in every interaction with every human being.
- The barista who does not smile – and you saying ‘cheer up‘ may be the last thing they want to hear, given the terrible family news they heard earlier that day.
- Being patient with the kid as they try to articulate a thought beyond their list of known words.
- The colleague who we casually label as ‘hard work’ – when we have not the faintest idea what is going on in their world.
- Exercising forgiveness for the distracted fella who fails to see you behind and lets the door slam.
Suspending Judgement – Ouch.
Empathy is simple but really challenging – the moment by moment suspension of judgment. It’s so easy to say ‘understand before judging‘ when judging is a honed sport that humans get a real kick out of.
An inherent behaviour in cohesive teams is the replacing of blame with curiosity.
“What is my part in this matter?”
“I wonder why this reaction is so strong or emotive?”
“If I was in her shoes how would I be seeing the situation?”