Having been a high school English teacher, I, of course, have a favorite quote from Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee:
“If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
We never truly know what is happening in a person’s life. We may not know their burdens and struggles, but everyone endures hardship at some point in their life. This fact should be a consideration when we interact with others who may not be at their best. The ability to empathize with others is an important social skill. This December, we are focusing on the character trait of Empathy.
Empathy is different from sympathy, which is to feel sorry about someone else’s circumstances. When we empathize, we to seek to underst
and another’s perspective. If, when faced with an irrational response or behavior of someone, we stop and reflect before reacting, we can change the course of not only our interactions, but also that person’s day.
When we use empathy effectively, we:
- Put aside our viewpoint, trying to see from the other’s person’s point of view
- Validate the other person’s perspective
- Examine our own attitude
- Listen, not just with our ears, but with our eyes and heart too
- Gain the other person’s perspective by asking them to explain their view point
Developing the attributes of empathy is the best way to develop the social emotional learning competency of social awareness and goes a long way in improving people skills.
Lieser families and staff have exhibited a great deal of empathy and compassion these past couple of weeks through the Giving Gobbler and Compassion through Action family event. When families engage in acts of compassion, their children learn to do the same.