“Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another.” ~Alfred Adler
Notice the common and critical word in each clause above?
When we empathize we are with someone. We do what we can, as best we can, to understand and share. Share in this case does not mean sharing our story but, rather, sharing as best we can the feelings of the person in front of us; do what we can to understand their story. Developing empathy takes practice. It is difficult. Well-meaning people make mistakes.
In Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017; 112-113), I wrote of three types of empathy that Daniel Goleman explains. (Note: In the Goleman link in the last sentence, he covers the potential downside to each type as well.)
- Cognitive empathy. With this we can say to someone, “I know what you are feeling. I can see things from your perspective.” We communicate and connect.
- Emotional empathy. Goleman said that this form of empathic connection allows us to sense what another person is feeling. “I feel your distress.”
- Empathic concern. Here we go beyond “feeling” another’s hurt. We want to help the person navigate the hurt. It becomes the basis for our concern. Transformational leaders give effective feedback and help people and teams grow.
Empathy for someone is not your story. It remains their story. And you are with them as best you can be.
More than four years ago, Laurie and I offered ten suggestions to help avoid unintentional missteps in an already difficult period in a person’s life. At that time, Laurie was navigating breast cancer and we experienced each of the well-meaning but unhelpful missteps. I wrote, “We found if you keep your heart open and remember not to deny the patient and family’s story or privacy you will be doing good. Thank you all for standing by and with us!”
Notice the word in the last sentence—with.
Video recommendation for the week:
Being there with someone.
Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.
My new book has been released.
eBook ($2.99) Paperback ($9.99). Click here.
Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.
Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.
Click here for more information about the book.
In the meantime, check out her blog.
And you can still order:
- My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
- Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.
My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.
You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
©2020. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®