The Thought That Counts - Podcasts on Emotional Intelligence from Ei4Change

The Thought That Counts : Episode 7 - Further Thoughts on Empathy

June 23, 2020 Robin Hills Episode 7
The Thought That Counts - Podcasts on Emotional Intelligence from Ei4Change
The Thought That Counts : Episode 7 - Further Thoughts on Empathy
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Robin Hills (Director, Ei4Change) has been asked to contribute a series of bite-sized, inspirational soundbites for Bolton FM.

Featured every day for a week as The Thought that Counts, these were broadcast on the Breakfast Show around 7.20 am and on the Lunchtime Show usually around 12.20 pm.

This podcast covers

  • Positive Aspects of Anxiety
  • Working to Increase Empathy
  • Empathy for Strangers
  • Improving Empathy and Relationships through Fiction
  • Really Listening to People

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Unknown Speaker :

Bolton FM is my local radio station and I often contribute to the The Thought That Counts slot. This is usually broadcast on the breakfast show at about 7.30 in the morning and the lunchtime show at about 1.30 over a period of a week. Each broadcast lasts about 90 seconds. My contributions are all based around some aspect of emotional intelligence. I've put my contributions together as hints and tips in this podcast. On this occasion, my reflections cover: Positive Aspects of Anxiety, Working to Increase Empathy for Strangers, Improving Empathy and Relationships through Fiction, Really Listening to People. I hope you enjoy the podcast and these The Thought That Counts. The Thought That Counts. There are no good or bad emotions. Emotions are information and data. Feelings are messages that can help us if we use our emotional intelligence. Yet, often we try to steer away from any feelings that are uncomfortable. Anxiety is a feeling that's often characterised by intense fear, worry and apprehension. Anxiety affects millions of people in cruel ways that include anxiety disorders,and related mental illnesses. Many anxiety sufferers describe it as a feeling of nervousness and dread that can be distracting at best and all consuming at worst. So how can anxiety be regarded as anything other than a bad emotion? Good stress keeps us motivated, excited about life. So, anxiety may actually help you to feel more prepared when faced with challenges. Your anxiety assists you in putting in extra effort into work or personal tasks, making a good impression or moving towards your goals. Also, experiencing anxiety will make you more empathetic to others who are experiencing anxiety. Preparing to record this session, I was pleased to recognise that I was feeling a level of anxiety. Without this, I maybe come overconfident and complacent with all the issues that these would entail. So the next time anxiety strikes, consider what message it has for you. There may be some positive message hidden within that feeling. The Thought That Counts. Empathy is the ability to imaginatively step into someone else's shoes and understand their feelings and perspective. And if you haven't noticed, we could use as much as we can get these days. From political polarisation to racial tensions to wars throughout the world, at times, we seem to be at rock bottom in terms of this crucial skill. Let's stop waiting for a better world. Let's start working on it together. First and foremost, we can work to increase our empathy with friends, co workers and even strangers. Switching from judgement to curiosity is a crucial step for anyone who wants to increase their empathy for others whoever we are with. Too often we judge others based on our own assumptions. We can teach ourselves to make a habit out of curiosity, switching from thinking that we know what's going on to genuinely wondering what's going on. Instead of putting other people in their place, try putting yourself in their place. The mental shift is subtle, but it can change your perspectives in big ways. The Thought That Counts. Empathy, especially for strangers, starts with exposure to people who are different than us. Contact with people of different races increases our empathy towards them at a neurological level, especially when we see them suffer and in pain. So if you want to increase your empathy, widen your circle. For many people, though there are definite limits to the diversity they have close by, which keeps their minds closed. I'm so lucky that in my work in the field of emotional intelligence, it means that I get to meet many people from different cultures across the world. My work is taking me to Ghana in West Africa in the next few weeks. It's a very short business trip of a few days to facilitate training in communication and customer service within a computing firm. I get the chance to live, share and work within their country and their culture. This is going to be invaluable to help me to develop my empathy. I'll be learning as much from them, as I'm sure there'll be learning from me. There will be differences, but similarities too. Through this, I will be learning more about myself, my empathy, and my relationship with the world. And, at the heart of great communication and customer service, wherever it is in the world, and in whatever industrial sector, it's empathy. The Thought That Counts. We make the world a more compassionate place one act at a time. Reading literary fiction especially has been shown to improve empathy. Literary fiction books tend to look into the psychological complexities of characters. These interesting complex characters drive the story and we, as readers, become emotionally involved in their desires and their motivations. The inner lives of the characters are not easily discerned, but rather warrant deeper exploration, which is often revealed in layers throughout the book. We gain an understanding of other people's mental states - a crucial skill in developing relationships. This sounds like a good recipe for stimulating people's curiosity, doesn't it? It turns out that when it comes to improving empathy, it's perfectly fine to practice on fictional characters. It gives us the skill to develop empathy with people we've never met, live lives we possibly couldn't experience because the book puts us inside someone else's skin. Imagine the possibilities here. You may not be able to live with a family of undocumented immigrants, underprivileged people, or someone living in war torn Syria, but that doesn't mean you can't actively increase your empathy with them. Through literary fiction, we can experience and practice empathy globally, which is helpful and even essential in a complex globalised world. The Thought That Counts. When you ask someone, how they're doing, stop and really listen to them. And I mean listening with more than one of your senses. Traditionally, we only think about listening involving only hearing and understanding the words used. Pay attention to the person's body language, their facial expressions, and overall appearance and demeanour, as well as what they say. You can do this with the cashier at the grocery store, the receptionist at your doctor's surgery, or your best friend. We have a tendency to breeze through interactions on autopilot. But if you want to actively work on connecting, and empathising with others, try this at least once a day - ask the question more sincerely, and then remain silent so that the person you're engaging with knows that you actually want to know and are not necessarily looking for quick, automatic, "I'm okay". It's a really slight change and people will know that you mean it. Empathy is the ability to understand and even feel the emotions of others. It's deeper and more personal. Ask someone how they're doing in a way that shows that you actually want a deeper, more personal answer, then learn to really listen. We often listen not to understand, we listen to reply. Listen, and silent are spelled with the same letters. Think about it. I'm Robin Hills from Ei 4 Change. Empowering your Emotional Management. The Thought That Counts. Transcribed by

Positive Aspects of Anxiety
Working to Increase Empathy
Empathy for Strangers
Improving Empathy through Fiction
Really Listening to People