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Nurturing a Culture of Empathy in the Family

 

During the month of July please enjoy these previously recorded shows. We will return live on August 4th.

Edwin RutschIn our third episode of the series Conflict and Empathy: Where Has Empathy and Compassion Gone? Edwin Rutsch, Center for Building a Culture of Empathy and I will discuss how do we foster empathy in a family?   Edwin will share some personal stories of how he has personally fostered empathy in his extended family and how he used Restorative Empathy Circles to heal family conflicts.

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Empathy – How Empathetic Are YOU in Conflict?

EmpathyWhat is empathy? Is empathy and sympathy one in the same? Although empathy and sympathy are similar they focus on different aspects of feelings.  Empathy is defined as the ability to share someone else’s feelings. Sometimes empathy is confused with sympathy, which is feeling sorry for someone’s troubles, experience, and sadness.

Feelings connect us to people on a deeper level reminding us that in this fast paced culture, we are alive, and we are human. Edwin Rutsch, the founder of the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy, explained that being empathic involves feeling your way into someone else’s experience.

Being empathetic is not just about understanding from the other person’s perspective, but being fully aware and present in the experience of another. Being present in that individual’s experience, in that moment of happiness, sadness, or even despair can strengthen the connection to that person and also heightens an individual’s view of themselves within the present conflict.

During conflicts we often get stuck on our own feelings and positions because we feel that the other party is not hearing us. I have had instances where I have been told that I am “only hearing what I want to hear” or the other person continues to repeat the same statement over and over again. This is a cry out from that  person, letting me know I really am not understanding what they are going through, or what they are experiencing in that moment. When I focus on the other person as they share with me what they are feeling and experiencing without interrupting them or dismissing their statements, I am being empathic. When someone feels they are being heard, they are less defensive and more open to a resolution, because they have the sense that I care about how they are feeling. Empathy is a humanizing experience, which connects us together.  

The ability to be empathic is not something that is inherited, it is something that can be learned, and must be practiced. The Center for Building a Culture of Empathy is a great resource for tools and strategies regarding empathy. The Center’s founder Edwin Rutsch joined the Texas Conflict Coach® for series of 4 podcasts where he challenged listeners to develop their own metaphor for empathy, and provided strategies and tips for refining the skill of empathy.

Here are some of my personal tips for practicing empathy:

       Remove distractions from your interactions such as mobile devices, gadgets, and computers

       Have self-awareness, know how you feel so you can focus on hearing the other person’s experience

       Have an understanding of what empathy means to you

Remember, as the Greek philosopher Epictetus said “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”

By Tracy Culbreath

Graduate Student, University of Baltimore – Negotiation and Conflict Management Program

 

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Building a Culture of Empathy in the Business World and Beyond

Keiko KrahnkeEdwin RutschIn our final episode of the series Conflict and Empathy: Where Has Empathy and Compassion Gone? Keiko Krahnke from the University of  Colorado will join me and Edwin Rutsch, Center for Building a Culture of Empathy to discuss how do we foster empathy in a business, work and  beyond?   We will also look at the larger social systems and see how we can build a truly global culture of empathy.

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Empathy – How Do We Build It?

Edwin Rutsch

In our second episode of the series Conflict and Empathy: Where Has Empathy and Compassion Gone?, Edwin Rutsch and I will discuss how do we build empathy and compassion? Edwin will discuss a number of strategies he has implemented at the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy. One strategy has been the use of Empathy Circles using empathic reflective listening with individuals and groups. He will share real life examples and will model the skill.

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Empathy – What Does Empathy Got to Do With It?


Edwin Rutsch
For many of us engaged in conflict or embroiled in a dispute, it can be very difficult to muster up empathy and compassion for the other side.  The longer the conflict goes unresolved it seems the less empathy we have for them as a human being. In this first of our four episode series–Conflict and Empathy: Where Has Empathy and Compassion Gone?— we will introduce the “wheel of empathy” and the “feel of empathy” as defined by Edwin Rutsch, Founder of a global empathy movement called The Center for Building a Culture of Empathy.  We will also discuss how compassion intertwines with empathy and set the foundation for how you build empathy.

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