E Zine of KV Pattom published by the Library

EMPATHY by Mrs. Anila Mathews

In Skills for Life on January 23, 2009 at 10:31 pm


“Encouraging a child to imagine how the other person feels or to put herself in that person’s place is a powerful way to nurture empathy.”

-Michelle Barb

This enables an individual to really step into another person’s shoes and feel with him.

How to Listen Empathetically

  1. Actively attempt to understand the Other’s point of view
  1. Take in information without passing judgment
  1. Acknowledge the speaker
  1. Model empathetic practices
  1. Create a trusting environment
  1. Allow the expression of emotion and sharing of problems

Specific things to DO:

  1. Be attentive
  1. Be interested
  1. Be alert
  1. Create a positive atmosphere
  1. Allow the Other to bounce ideas off of you
  1. Indicate you are listening
  1. Reflect your understanding back to the speaker

Specific things to Avoid DON’T:

  1. Change the subject
  1. Discount the speakers’ feelings
  1. Let the speaker “hook” you into an emotional exchange
  1. Interrupt
  1. Give advice
  1. Interrogate

Successful students often recognize that much of their success involves their ability to communicate with others. They are also able to view themselves and the world through the eyes of others. This means, examining beliefs and circumstances of others, keeping in mind the goal of enhanced understanding and appreciation. Successful students value sharing experiences with persons of different backgrounds as enriching their lives

EXAMPLE-Athul and Krishnan were students of class 9 and had been classmates since childhood.

Krishnan lived with his grandparents as he had lost his parents in an accident when he was 3 years old. Krishnan loved to go cycling around the colony and played cricket with his friends in the neighborhood Athul’ past time was playing games on his PC and watching television.

Athul was interested in making Krishnan enjoy computer games. He decided to give Krishnan game CD’s for a week. But Krishnan did not have computer at home. Athul replied sarcastically and rudely “How can you be living in the 21st century without a computer at home?”

Krishnan tried to explain that his grandparents were looking after him his grandfather got a meager pension which he could give him school education; He could not afford a computer for him.

Athul retorted “It is ridiculous your grand parents do not care for you, How can there be a household without a computer?”

Krishnan was able to place himself in his grandparents shoes and realize the affordability of his grandfather while Athul was not able to place himself in Krishna’s shoes to accept the reality.

Being empathetic means one has the ability to imagine oneself in the shoes of someone else that is a friend, parent, teacher or others and experience their positive and negative emotions. Empathy makes a person understand others concerns, worries, fears, need, and feelings.

Empathy towards others is a unique quality every adolescent should inculcate in life. This enables the youngsters to appreciate others better; it helps in improving communication and in establishing worthwhile long term relationships.

Parents and teachers can be good role modals in being empathetic towards their sons, daughters and students this improves he bond between adults and young people.


Anila Mathews

Life skill teacher

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