Judgement stands as an obstacle to empathy.
This reflection card was a discussion point in my classes this week as we explored empathy, connection and relationship communication. Empathy, to the surprise of many, is a skill set. It is a set of skills that we can learn and enhance through practice. Empathy involves perspective taking (standing in someone else's shoes), abandoning judgement, identifying emotion in another person, and labelling that emotion as a reflection.
When we are able to identify and label emotions in ourselves, we are better equipped to recognise and reflect these feelings to another. When we identify and reflect these feelings honestly, and without judgement, we allow the other person to feel seen and heard. We are communicating that their thoughts, feelings, fears and experiences matter.
We can't feel with someone, if we are standing above them. And in essence, this is how judgement works; we evaluate another's behaviour through a lens of self-righteousness. It's like standing on a pedestal and commenting on what the view is like from the floor. Judgement always stands as an an obstacle to empathy.
Developing an emotional vocabulary of our own and encouraging our children to do the same, are steps in cultivating more compassionate communities.
As the saying goes, "walk a mile in my shoes, then see".