Disposition: Empathy

How do you respond when someone shares some difficult news with you? This BrenĂ© Brown video does an excellent job of explaining empathy and why it’s best to just say “I don’t know what to say right now. I’m just glad you told me.”

It’s no surprise then that the disposition that goes with the habit of building community is empathy. As we learn in Chapter 4 of Onward, empathy is a sense that someone feels our pain, and it could fill the places where there are gaps, misunderstandings, and divisions among us. Call to mind a time when you were struggling and someone empathized with you. What did it feel like? How did you intuit the empathy? How did that affect your relationship with that person?

Elena Aguilar also shares a pretty incredible vision in Onward: Imagine what might be possible if we spent a year prioritizing, strategizing, and striving to build empathy in our schools – empathy among teachers and students, among students and their peers, among teachers and administrators, and among staff, parents, guardians, and the community at large. I suspect wed meet all kinds of goals, because the lack of empathy in our schools and society might be one of the root causes of a great deal of dysfunction.

What can you start doing today to work towards that vision?