So what is empathy?
For me, the core of empathy is curiosity…It’s choosing to ask, in order to understand how others feel, believing them when they tell us and then being compassionate toward them for having the courage to share it with us.
(Note: Understanding is an action of the heart, not head.)
More and more, we live in bubbles. Most of us are surrounded by people who look like us, vote like us, earn like us, spend money like us, have educations like us and worship like us. The result is an empathy deficit, and it’s at the root of many of our biggest problems. Luckily! empathy can be developed. Some people are more naturally empathetic than others, but there are easy, evidenced-based exercises that anyone can do to increase their empathy muscle 💪🏼
•Start conversations with strangers or invite a coworker or neighbor you don’t know well to lunch. Make an effort to go beyond small talk.
Be sure to put away your phone/devices in order to be fully present, to connect and to genuinely understand more about them
•Follow people on social media with different backgrounds than you have (different race, religion or political persuasion.) remember, it’s with the intent to be open, curious and to understand a little more deeply.
•Be honest with yourself. We are all biased to one degree or another. The first step is to admit it.. and then be curious about it. It’s common for us to take mental shortcuts and make conclusions about the people around us. However, actively working to combat that is what matters.
•Read Books. Reading is one of the best ways to open your mind to the experiences of others.
• Stand up for others. Advocate for things that will help, even if they don’t directly affect you.
“Guys have underestimated me my entire life. And for years, I never understood why. It used to really bother me. But then one day, I was driving my little boy to school, and I saw this quote by Walt Whitman, and it was painted on the wall there. It said, ‘Be curious, not judgmental.’ I like that.” -Ted Lasso