Not long ago we ran across a fantastic short video on the power of sympathy by Brené Brown. Brown is a research professor, scholar, and academic who is changing the way we think about who we are and what we want to grow toward. Currently, Dr. Brown is appearing on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday series. Studying the topic of vulnerability is Dr. Brown’s specialty as seen in this Lifeclass titled “The Gifts of Imperfection”, but much of what we can learn from her centers on how we respond to people in our lives.
I am, personally speaking, quite the Word Nerd. So when I saw this video titled “The Power of Empathy” I was curious and glad to find that Dr. Brown was discussing the powerful difference between the two words. Take a look:
As human beings, our ability to empathize with another person is paramount to our ability to connect. Isn’t that what most of us want? When we share our pain and suffering with another it’s safe to say we don’t always need sympathy but rather desire what fuels our connection in the use of empathy.
Dr. Brown describes the work of nursing scholar, Theresa Wiseman, who studied 4 qualities of empathy:
1. Perspective taking and recognizing their perspective as truth.
2. Staying out of judgment.
3. Recognizing emotion in other people.
4. Communicating emotion with people.
So, how do you grow? Part of the answer lies in Brown’s short video above which I implore you to view if you haven’t already. For many people, it’s about discerning the difference between empathy and sympathy and then putting into practice whichever is the appropriate reaction. Sharing our suffering with others requires incredible vulnerability on the part of the sharer, but our response becomes what ultimately defines us in the connecting process.
Which will you practice today?
Screenshot courtesy of Sam Moesser.