Empathy is an essential trait that aids meaningful connection with others in both our personal life and work life. Instilling empathy as a norm for children at an early age promotes the development of good character necessary in the complex social environments in education and the workplace. Numerous articles highlight and explore ways to recognize and cultivate empathy in both children and adults. One such article by Theresa Wiseman published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing is “A Concept Analysis of Empathy.” Wiseman takes a practical exploration of the mechanics of empathy and its development.
I would walk a mile in your shoes. The first step to developing empathy for other people is to see things from another’s perspective.
Hey! No judgement here. Once we adopt another’s point of view, we must reserve negative judgment.
No hidden agenda. Staying as neutral as possible, we can then gain an understanding of how another feels.
I feel you. The final step to developing empathy is to communicate the understanding we have gained. In this way, the circle of empathy is reciprocated and barriers are dissolved.
Empathy requires two fundamental social emotional components: understanding emotions and applying effective communication. The development of these skills from a young age establishes an intrinsic capacity to connect with peers. We can encourage children along the path toward empathy by helping them identify their emotions and to recognize those emotions in others. Furthermore, children who build effective communication skills are able to have an open dialogue about their emotions and the emotions they identify in others. Ultimately it is in the affirmation of one another’s emotions that we truly connect.