Brené Brown on Empathy


(GASPS) So, what is empathy and why is it
VERY different than sympathy? Empathy fuels connection. Sympathy drives disconnection. It’s very interesting. Theresa Wiseman is a nursing scholar who studied very diverse professions
where empathy is relevant and came up with
four qualities of empathy. Perspective taking – ability to take
the perspective of another person, or recognise their perspective
as their truth. Staying out of judgment – not easy when you enjoy it
as much as most of us do. (AUDIENCE CHUCKLES) Recognising emotion in other people,
then communicating that. Empathy is feeling WITH people. I always think of empathy
as this kind of sacred space. When someone’s in a deep hole
and they shout from the bottom… ..And we look and we say, “Hey!”
And climb down… Sympathy is, “Ooh!”
(LAUGHTER) “It’s bad, uh-huh?”
(LAUGHTER) “Uh… No. You want a sandwich?” Empathy is a choice
and it’s a vulnerable choice. In order to connect with you, I have to connect with something
in myself that knows that feeling. Rarely, if ever, does an empathic
response begin with, “At least…” (LAUGHTER) Yeah. And we do it all the time
because, you know what? Someone shared something with us
that’s incredibly painful and we’re trying
to “silver lining” it. I don’t think that’s a verb,
but I’m using it as one. We’re trying to put a silver lining
around it. So, “I had a miscarriage.” “At least you know
you can get pregnant.” “I think my marriage
is falling apart.” “At least you have a marriage.” (LAUGHTER) “John’s getting kicked out
of school.” “At least Sarah is an A-student.” One of the things we do sometimes in the face of very difficult
conversations is we try to make things better. If I share something with you that’s
very difficult, I’d rather you say, “I don’t even know what to say.
I’m just so glad you told me.” Because the truth is, rarely can
a response make something better. What makes something better
is connection.

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