The Importance of Empathy

Relationships are the key to creating a safe and optimal learning environments. But, this idea about relationships extends beyond the classroom. It is pervasive in all aspects of our lives. How do we create and maintain relationships? I love the work that Jayson Gaddis is doing to address the concern that relationships are a learned process. We are not born with all the skills needed to maintain proper relationships with our self and others. We all need help in this area.

I believe that the skill most needed to help with this problem is empathy. Empathy is often confused with sympathy. Author and researcher, Brené Brown describes the differences between the two. She states that: sympathy drives disconnection, whereas, empathy drive connection.

Why is empathy important? My belief is that love is fueled by our ability to truly and deeply connect with other people. When we give another person space to be seen and heard as they are and for who they are, then we are showing that person love. Giving another human uninterrupted, focused, and devoted attention is a hard thing to do.

Empathy is the key to maintaining human connection. I am not sure if empathy is something we are born with, but I do believe that we can learn, with practice and awareness, to be more empathetic, understanding, and connected.

In my next post I will share an activity that I do with students to bring awareness to listening and attention.