Practicing Being Empathetic
There is a clear correlation between school shootings and a lack of an empathetic environment. Many school shooters have a history of behavioral problems, mental health issues, and feelings of alienation. Some were abused at home. Moreover, this kind of neglect appears to be a root cause, and leading indicator of these kinds of violent offenders. Stopping any future school shooting is a noble and worthwhile task. However, it is impossible to predict when one will occur. That is why it is so important for education to focus on developing empathetic practices to develop students and faculty.
What Does Being Empathetic Look Like?
Elliot D. Cohen Ph.D. wrote about improving relationships in her article “How to Be Empathetic.” Not everybody is naturally empathetic. Therefore, we need to also have patience for those who are learning how to relate better to others. Cohen discusses the difference between understanding empathy as a state of mind compared to a character trait. He says, “As a state of mind, empathy involves resonating with what is going on in the subjective world of another.” In other words, can you actually comprehend how another person is viewing the world.
Whether or not you agree with it. You may be adamantly opposed to their subjective view of the world. But being empathetic as a state of mind involves being able to at least wrap your head around another person’s view of the world.
As a character trait, Cohen describes empathy being a more natural or typical state of mind. This formulation can be useful in identifying somebody’s ability or capacity for being empathetic towards another. If a person can only muster empathy as a (temporary) state of mind they may need support in developing it as a character trait. Those with empathetic tendencies as a character trait may be best suited to help develop others to have the same character trait.
Laura Click’s 31 Statements To Practice
Laura Click is an entrepreneur, marketer, and writer. She published an article on Medium regarding how people can practice being more empathetic. For those who have empathy as a character trait these kinds of statements may be naturally infused in their dialogue. Similarly, for those who are developing their state of mind to be more frequently empathetic, these maybe conversation starters to keep in mind.
Examples from Click’s article:
- “I’m in your corner.”
- “I’m proud of you.”
- “What has this been like for you?”
In a school system, empathetic leadership could lead to a safer environment. Students can stand out by being kind to those who are bullied around them. Simple acts of kindness can go a long way for somebody who feels dejected or outcasted. But it should not be the students’ responsibilities to make their schools safer. It is up to teachers to look out for their students. Furthermore, administrators too must find new ways to relate to young people. Regardless of the challenges we face, joining together and understanding each other makes a difference.