Fridays with Franky: Empathy Is My Middle Name!
Hi Everyone! It’s me, Franky, the camp dog here to share a few more words with you on this lovely Friday! You know, as a dog, I often don’t understand what people are saying to me (sometimes I do, but choose to ignore them!), but I have a pretty good sense of empathy and can often feel what those around me are feeling! With the snow on the ground, I now have more time to read. So, I came across some interesting articles and a couple of them explored the concept of empathy. In Understanding How Children Develop Empathy Dr. Nancy Eisenberg does a good job of defining empathy:
“Empathy is experiencing the same emotion
or highly similar emotion to what the other person is feeling,”
This article is a bit academic in the beginning, but there are some good insights and suggestions in the final few paragraphs that make it a good read!
- Parental modeling is important – sympathy and compassion should be part of children’s experience long before they know the words
- Parents should explain how other people feel. Reflect the child’s feelings, but also point out ‘Look, you hurt Johnny’s feelings’.
- Offer opportunities to do good – opportunities that the child will see as voluntary. And help children see themselves and frame their own behavior as generous, kind and helpful.
I read another article as well, 15 Phrases That Build Bridges Between People by Jeff Schmitt, a Forbes contributor. Although the author didn’t specifically address empathy, I immediately saw a connection between displaying empathy and responding to that empathy effectively and positively. The 15 phrases he discusses seem to be basic social skills that can help one get along with others and be stepping stones to becoming a strong and empowering leader! Seems like that’s something we do all the time at WeHaKee Camp for Girls! Here are several of the ‘bridge-building’ phrases he recommends:
- Thank You ~ You can never express too much gratitude as long as it is done genuinely and sincerely!
- I Trust Your Judgement ~ It’s very uplifting, affirming, and shows you believe in the other person.
- I Don’t Know ~ Admitting you don’t have all the answers can be scary to you, but can help make you more approachable.
- Tell Me More ~ It indicates you are interested in the other person and what they have to say.
- What I Hear You Saying Is ~ Again, it shows your interest in the other person enough to make sure you are truly understanding what they are saying.
- What If ~ Is a great alternative to ‘I can’t’ or ‘No way’. It suggests that you are open to exploring alternatives and working with that person even in the face of disagreement!
- Well Done ~ It shows recognition and affirmation
- You’re Right ~ It’s a great way to get their attention!
- I Understand ~ People long to connect and showing you care or empathizing with them does just that!
So how did I draw a connection between empathy and this article? Well, simply put, empathy requires one to make a situation not about themselves, but rather about the other person or persons. These phrases do just that in very simple yet highly effective ways. Now as a dog, I’m not able to use these phrases – I try to convey them with my eyes, my tail, and occasionally my tongue! But I do know at camp, that learning how to have empathy for those around you is key to building the life long relationships our campers develop at WeHaKee!
Well, thanks again for joining me today. Have a great weekend everyone!