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Build Empathy and I HOPE THIS FINDS YOU WELL by Natalie Sue


Cover of the book I Hope This Finds You Well by Natalie Sue, used to teach the concept of building empathy

Jolene has been working at Supershops for eight long years. For all that time, she’s shown up, done her work, and left – barely getting to know her colleagues and experiencing no passion for the job. Maybe it’s the company, possibly it’s Jolene (who has her own history), but also, Jolene hates working at Supershops because her co-workers are annoying. Take the three she sits with: Rhonda, who wastes altogether too much time bragging about her adult son; Armin, who is intentionally killing Rhonda’s plant; and Caitlin, an aspiring social media influencer who spends a good portion of her day gossiping and complaining.

 

But wait – are Rhonda, Armin, and Caitlin really that bad? Does Jolene know anything about the people she works with for forty hours each week? Would Jolene see them differently if she gave them empathy?

 

Empathy is the ability to feel and understand another person’s life from their perspective. Empathetic people are generous, better able to forgive and help others, and less aggressive.  Before jumping to harsh conclusions, empathetic people wonder if there’s information they don’t know that would impact their judgments. Because they have a charitable perspective, empathetic people tend to be happier.

 

Empathy, luckily, is a skill that can be learned and strengthened. Here are ways to build empathy:

 

Pay Attention: Consider both diverse cultures and specific experiences. The more you know about another person’s situation, the easier it is to see things from their perspective.

 

Read Fiction:  The only way to understand stories is to recognize motivation and human interaction. Relating to characters is a non-threatening way to practice stepping into someone else’s shoes.

 

Ask Questions: Open-ended, curious, and supportive questions help you understand the other person better and reinforce genuine interest in them.

 

Look for Alternatives: If you make negative assumptions about someone, stop yourself and accept that you might be wrong. Then, list other (gracious) assumptions that could be right.


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