We Are The World. Lets Start Talking.

I had been considering what to write in this first blog of 2017 when Roger James (my husband and business partner) showed me this 32-years-ago video.  It sings everything I want to say with one slight yet significant addition. In addition to giving money to the causes we care about, let’s start giving by listening deeply to each other with empathy and compassion, especially to those who differ from us in race, gender, ideology, class, … Read more…

Third Doorway to Compassion

Emotional Empathy

In the last two blogs we explored two forms of empathy: cognitive empathy (understanding another’s perspective) and empathic concern (sensing what another needs). This week we look at the third and final form of empathy identified by Daniel Goleman: emotional empathy or feeling what someone else feels.   Feeling what another feels is a natural part of being human. When babies hear another baby cry, they start crying. After about 14 months of age, not only do … Read more…

Second Doorway to Compassion

Empathic Concern

Last week we looked at how cognitive empathy (understanding another’s perspective) can help you navigate difficult conversations during the holiday season. This week we explore another kind of empathy to help you through gnarly holiday gatherings: sensing what others need or what Daniel Goleman calls  “empathic concern.” This second doorway gets us one step closer to compassion. If you understand what others are saying with cognitive empathy, you can then sense what they might need. … Read more…

Doorways to Compassion

Cognitive Empathy

As you gather with your family and attend holiday parties, empathy and compassion can help you navigate the difficult conversations that are bound to occur in the aftermath of the year’s destructively contentious election season.  (Even if everyone agrees to avoid talking about politics, fear and anger can be easily rekindled.) To open the doorway to compassion with our family, friends and coworkers, we need, at the very least, to understand people’s perspectives or have … Read more…

Listening and Questioning Tied to Empathy and Compassion

Listening and questioning, which we have been examining for the last five weeks, are actions we can take which are tied to empathy and compassion.  Both empathy and compassion seem appropriate for the season, so we wanted to delve in again with our post from November 11, 2015. Tina Turner’s 1984 Grammy Song of the Year asks “What’s love got to do with it?” It turns out that compassion—an element of love—has everything to do … Read more…

Asking Questions of Genuine Curiosity

Asking great questions is an important partner skill to good listening skills.  In this season of political upheaval paired with many opportunities to gather socially, questions of genuine interest will be a valuable tool.  To elaborate we are re-posting our original blog on this topic from November 4th of last year. Listening (“Go-To” Skill #1) and asking questions of genuine curiosity (“Go-To” Skill # 2) are the keys to the kingdom of understanding and working … Read more…

Focus on Listening by Clarifying

listening by clarifying

Today is the fourth and last in a series of posts examining the skill of listening and its importance to meaningful work in groups.  I originally discussed listening in a post about a year ago which you can find here. The first week I wrote that listening requires us to quiet our minds. The second week I offered physical postures that support and convey an attitude of attentive listening. The third week I suggested ways to test … Read more…

Focus on Listening by Restating

Over the past two weeks I have been revisiting listening, a skill I examined in a blog post a year ago. Listening is critical for productive group problem solving. Two weeks ago, I wrote about quieting our minds so we can focus on the person speaking. Last week, I explored behaviors that we can adopt to both support our focus and encourage the speaker to speak by showing a listening posture. This week, I submit … Read more…

Focus on Listening with Responsive Behavior

Since August, I have been sharing key practices for joining with others to productively address complex problems we face in our lives.  Just over a year ago, I wrote about listening and its value in problem solving.  Listening is such an important skill to bring to our work with others that last week and over the next few weeks I am giving attention to four characteristics of good listening. In addition to quieting oneself to … Read more…

Focus on Listening by Choosing Appropriate Behaviors

Since August, I have been sharing key practices for joining with others to tackle the complex problems we face in our lives at work and in our communities.  A year ago, I spent time exploring specific skills that support those practices.  One of those skills is listening.  Listening is such an important skill to bring to our work with others that over the next four weeks I want to give attention again to four characteristics … Read more…