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8. The Death of DEI
  • Writer's pictureAntonio Da Veiga Rocha

The Breath of Empathy

Updated: Nov 14, 2020

Empathy is a strong motivator, especially for change. Be it for the fellow colleague in the collective workspace or the neighbor who has lost a love one. What drives us to reach out and give a hand is motivated by what we feel for that person, or the thought of how we might feel in their situation. It sounds simple, but in my 25 years of pedagogical work, I have found this to be one of the hardest elements of diversity education work to do, but also one of the most interesting areas to work in.

Empathy is something I have practice ever since I was a child. When I was a youngster my natural curiosity always brought me to wonder about the other’s position. I thought about friends and friendships a bit deeper than my friends and colleagues, everything from entertaining how a neighbor might feel about a certain family action to how a local stray cat may go about investigating the hunger in its belly. My mother speaks about me doing this more acutely, more concentrated, than my siblings. She said I often felt for things that just simply moved past the other's concerns. To my friends I became the sensitive one, the over-thinker, the cautious soul. These were titles I rebelled against at different points in my youth, but transitioning to adulthood I came around to realizing their worth.

As I started working with kids and adolescents, I became interested in the individual and their needs, and how by identifying their needs one could approximate their specific intelligences and assist them this way. This was all in my education and social work. In studying the needs of others one has to inquire about the state of their emotional balance and wellbeing. This means listening attentively. Attentive Listening is one of the pillars of empathy work. I understood early on that culture-work questions - fundamental questions needed to change culture - need to rise to the surface organically, or at least, without pressure. Relationships have to be built, trust has to be established, and some kind of future has to be presented in the interactions for there to be a release of what's possible. I realized over time that questions for me really became organic entities, fruitions of the moment. The combination of both Active Listening and Organic Questioning were the locomotions the increase my capacity for empathy.

I have now practiced this for more than 25 years and over said years I have learned that my ability to garner attention and communicate my intentions effectively are very much due to my capacity to empathize with those I interact with. In looking to build equitable cultures in your organization, consider the power of empathy. Here at KinSite Consultancy & Coaching I am drawn by the power of empathy to motivate and create change. Get in touch with us about the many possibilities KSCC can provide you and/or your organization when it comes to Empathy Work.


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