By Georgianna Reilly, LMSW
SJS Staff Writer
This article by the Greater Good Science Center of the University of California at Berkeley seems like a page right out of a well written social work training guide and strives to answer the question: “How can I expand my own empathetic potential?”. Striving to remind people that empathy can expand and develop beyond childhood the author discusses six habits of highly empathetic people:
1. Talk with strangers.
2. Challenge prejudice and discover commonalities.
3. Try another person’s life.
4. Listen hard- and open up.
5. Inspire mass action and change.
6. Develop an ambitious imagination.
These are all things we’ve discussed in class as social work roles and values, yet I’ve never heard them connected to assisting with empathy and this is an important key to making these lessons meaningful! Some of these might be common place in our personal or professional lives, while others seeming quite difficult, but the ultimate key is to think beyond yourself and open up to new experiences and alternate perspective than your own. Be vulnerable, be tolerant, be curious, and put your heart into it. Also remember that empathy goes beyond individual actions, and does have place in macro work. I know plenty of social workers who lack empathy or who have lost sight of it by getting caught up in themselves and their own work process. So, I think this article is a great reminder and refresher course in all things social worky. There are also two videos in the article that are great!
How to you maintain or heighten your empathy?
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