Social and emotional intelligence are essential attributes of successful teaching and school leadership. And empathy is one of the most important of those skills.
Empathy means that we are able to see the world through the eyes of other people so well that they feel like you “get them.”
We understand what they think, feel, and want even though that may not be what we think, feel, and want.
Many of us resist having empathy with someone because it implies that we agree with them when perhaps we don’t.
Others lack empathy because they are unwilling to do the demanding work of trying to understand the world as others experience it.
When our colleagues feel like we understand their point of view they are more open to our perspective.
That means we are more likely to influence people with whom we have empathy than those with whom we don’t.
Fortunately, empathy can be cultivated. Its development requires intention, an openness to seeing the world through the eyes of others, and persistent practice.
It is a practice well worth the effort because when we give the gift of empathy, we give a gift that can be transformative to us, to others, and to our relationships.