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Build Your Empathy Skills this Valentine’s Day

9 February 2016

Allison read Resources for Learning About Empathy on Valentine's Day on the George Lucas Educational Foundation site, Edutopia, and celebrated an emphasis on compassion and caring this Valentine’s Day.

Tags: allison read, allison watched, brene brown, communication, conflict, design thinking, empathy, happiness, leadership, listening, relationships, valentine's day

I’m not in a relationship at the moment, but I still look forward to Valentine’s Day every year. I suppose it’s because my daddy believes it’s one of the high holy holidays that shows up in the midst of a bleak mid-winter to help you make it from Christmas to Easter. He’s the most sentimental romantic I know, but his love of the holiday extends well beyond my mama. He thinks it’s a great day to celebrate all kinds of love. As a child, I got cards, candy, and money. In fact, I still get cards and money from my parents! I’m grateful that daddy taught me to believe in all forms of love and to celebrate romantic love even when I'm not fortunate enough to be enjoying my own relationship on 14 February.

Right about now you may be thinking, “Seriously? It’s just a holiday drummed up by the greeting card industry that creates unnecessary pressure and expectations and excludes a lot of people.” I know. I acknowledge the rationale behind your argument, but I still like the day. And I especially like that the George Lucas Educational Foundation site, Edutopia, sees all the Valentine’s Day hoopla in schools as an opportunity to help students with their social and emotional learning. While Resources for Learning About Empathy on Valentine's Day is geared toward teachers, it’s full of articles and activities that will help all grown-ups deepen their empathic potential, as well.

If you’re not quite sure where to start in the Edutopia list of resources, I suggest watching Brené Brown’s now famous animation about the difference between sympathy and empathy. In just two minutes and 38 seconds, Brown even helps you to know what to say when someone tells you something sad and terrible. Then, you can read this post to learn why these Six Habits of Highly Empathic People matter:

  • Habit 1: Cultivate curiosity about strangers
  • Habit 2: Challenge prejudices and discover commonalities
  • Habit 3: Try another person’s life
  • Habit 4: Listen hard—and open up
  • Habit 5: Inspire mass action and social change
  • Habit 6: Develop an ambitious imagination

And if you’re looking for some help to support your romantic relationship this year, check out these past posts: Little Things Can Keep Your Love Alive and Minimize Conflict in All Your Relationships. Happy Valentine's Day to all of us!


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