The Silver Lining: Unexpected Kindness and Empathy

Are you finding yourself unsettled and anxious? 

Routines? What routines?

What really matters now?

When circumstances jolt us from our routines, it is hard to reset. Business is not the same as usual. For many, the answer is to help others… If there is a silver lining in all of this… it is that we are experiencing unexpected kindness. I stopped in my tracks after reading this post in a local chat group. THIS is why the human spirit will not be denied.

How to Help Someone Struggling:

First, to set the scene, you have to create an opportunity to actually talk and meet him where he is. Pick a time and place most comfortable for both of you to have this initial discussion. People tend to be more receptive to conversation when they’re physically comfortable, unhurried and undistracted. Ask questions. Don’t judge. Don’t demand she change.

Use Open-ended Questions:

By asking open-ended questions, you encourage honest, candid and thoughtful discussions. Open-ended questions use the words who, what, when, where, and how. Below are some conversation starters:
  • How are you doing?
  • What do you like (not like) about your situation?
  • What interests you?
  • What is your virtual world like?
  • What makes ______ appealing?
  • I have noticed that sometimes you have a hard time with (identify a behavior). What makes (name the behavior) hard for you?
If your child or friend resists, ask him, “What feels hard about this?” If he denies there is a problem, you can say, “Well I have noticed…” and then name a specific series of situations. Ask him what feels uncomfortable or makes him afraid of making that change. Share with him the things that could happen if he were willing to work on this concern and ask him what he would like to be different. You will share with him a picture of possibilities—what it could be like. Some key phrases that are helpful:
  • “I am curious”
  • “Tell me more about that.”
  • “What is that like for you?
  • “What does that feel like?
When you are curious and really listen, you can never go wrong.

Clarify Concerns and Express Empathy:

As she is responding to your questions, be sure to clarify her concerns by being a reflective listener: Listen closely, repeat back what you heard and ask if you understand correctly. You can say: “Here’s what I hear you saying…is that right?” If she feels that her concerns are heard and validated, she will be more open to hearing what you have to say. Accept and validate her sentiments by using you and I statements, such as “You are overwhelmed” and “I am sad you are lonely.”View Post Finally, and this is very important, be sure to express empathy: “I hear you,” “I get it,” “That must be hard.”

Social Skills Deeper Dive

More actionable advice, exercises and videos can be found in the Store

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3 Tips to Building Empathy During a Social Crisis

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