Seeing with eyes of another
Listening with ears of another
Feeling with the heart of another
According to Clair Cain (a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist) empathy is developed around the age of 2 years. These are early signs. Children start to show genuine empathy, understanding how other people feel even when they don’t feel the same way themselves. I know even with research to back it up I can already see eye brows being raised and the words “What Ever” are escaping from your lips. Point in case think back to a time when you walked into a room with your two year old or someone else's little one and you were down, sadden with the weight of the world, or just frustrated. All of a sudden you felt arms circle around your legs or neck what ever they could get a hold of, giving you that warmth of another human being letting you know your not alone. Think of all the opportunities to raise that two year old to become even more empathetic,
In today’s society it is hard to build on that empathy because we live in exclusive bubbles. Throughs my years of teaching I heard it said over and over again. I want my child to go to school with people just like them. I taught at a very diversified school and the power of experiencing empathy was unbelievable. I taught Leadership at Fort Walton Beach HS, and every class make up was completely diversified with combinations of ethentiscityies, color, GPA’s, wealth or lack of. I saw my leadership class constantly gravitate to other students for their skills, talents, and cultural expertise. My students were so in tuned to others that they learned to listen, watch body language, and assist people to help themselves.
“The only time you look in your neighbor’s bowl is to make sure that they have enough. You don’t look in your neighbor’s bowl to see if you have as much as them.”
Short version of a long thought provoking story on how empathy neutered can bring personal growth. Close to my last year of teaching Leadership. I was standing in Wal-Mart in one of three lanes that were being reserved for my students as they provided Christmas for 120 families and 320 children. One of my students ran to the line and started piling on gifts for one of her 5 families. The first words out of her mouth were I am so excited my families are going to have a better Christmas than I ever had. This family right here think there is no Santa and were going to bring the spirit belief and hope to them. The next day a got a call from the school board and waasked if what the girl said the other night was true or not. I answered yes at least a third of my students provide a better Christmas than what they would receive. The staff wanted to collect money to provide for my students. I knew this suggestion would not be well received but was told to ask any way. With astonishment and then tears of hurt my students answered NO this is about us, listening, providing, and giving hope to others. Don’t ask us this question ever again. Then they dressed in their elves outfits and drove off to walk in empathy along side on another human being.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, and honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all which have the potential to turn a life around.
So how do we learn to be more empathetic? Start by opening the door to you bubble and find people who don’t look, act, earn money, education, or worship just like you. Break the empathy deficit we are living in now. Empathy can be learned, taught, enhanced Right Now!
Understanding that Empathy can be developed no matter where you find yourself in life right this minute. We must understand how it works. It’s understanding how others feel and being compassionate towards them.
Empathy happens when two parts of the brain work together. Studies from the neuroscience of Empathy, and new study from Max Planck Institute of Human and Cognitive Brain Sciences reveals that when the emotional center of the brain - which perceives the feelings of others joins with the cognitive center - which tries to understand why they feel that way and how we can help them, empathy can grow and develop.
Empathy makes better managers, leaders, workers, family members, friends, AND HUMANS. When we join together in a growth and development plan that first is found in empathy then we become bigger than ourselves. Connection and compassion have fertile ground to grow on and crucial empathy to human development can be sustainable for the future humans.
“Empathy may be the single most important quality that must be nurtured to give peace a fighting chance.”
Barbara Britt has a passion for making a difference in the lives of others. She developed the largest leadership program in the country for high school students and spent 16 years working with that program. She is now using that experience and expertise in the corporate world. As a sought after member of John C. Maxwell’s international speaking, training and coaching team, she conducts leadership, personal and professional development training for a variety of organizations. Barbara’s no-nonsense style helps take companies to a new level of growth. As an executive coach to management teams and entrepreneurs, and a life coach to individuals, Barbara helps redefine her client’s purpose, vision and goals. She speaks & trains on many different topics based on individual or company needs. Topics include Personality Work Styles, Excellence in Customer Service, and Power Networking. She also has developed a Roadmap for College Preparation Program that is helping parents and their children prepare financially, academically, and emotionally for one of the most important times in their family’s life.