Often times, bullying occurs because people don’t know how to accept others into their environment. This makes teaching acceptance key for bullying prevention. Acceptance is the ability to see that others have a right to be their own unique self. They have a right to their own feelings, thoughts, and opinions. Accepting other people can be difficult, especially in diverse environments like schools. By developing the skills of empathy in your population you can help bridge the gap between students from diverse backgrounds. In this post we go over some of the fundamentals of being able to accept others.
Don’t try to control the feelings of others
Have you ever tried to help other people with a problem they were having, but you felt like no matter what you said, you couldn’t get through to them? Maybe you tried to get them to “see things your way,” or “think more rationally.” In the end, they just couldn’t come around to your way of thinking. Well, I hate to break it to you, but the problem was not with the people you were trying to help, but rather, with your approach to helping them.
With feelings, there is no right or wrong answer. So instead of trying to control or change other people’s’ feelings, you must accept their feelings. We must allow people to have feelings without telling them how they should feel. Empathetic people understand that feelings are difficult to control and they accept people’s’ feelings for what they are.
Allow others to be different
How boring would life be if everyone was exactly the same as everyone else in the world? If everyone looked the same, had the same personality, the same interests and the same experiences, we would lose interest in other people pretty quickly. Luckily, each of us has a unique set of qualities and characteristics that make us different. Even though we know that these differences are for the best, sometimes we feel uncomfortable with these differences. We either try to change people who are different or we avoid them.
Being empathetic means having an open mind and accepting these unique differences. The next time you are around someone who appears to be your polar opposite, challenge yourself to get to know that person better. Find out more about him or her, and I promise, you’ll come out of the conversation feeling that you’re not as different as perhaps you first thought. You’ll feel closer to the person, and as a result, you will be that much better able to empathize with that person.
Give thoughtful advice
Once you learn to grant others the right to their own feelings and allow them to be different, you will be better able to give thoughtful, meaningful advice. Have you ever tried to talk to other people about your problems, only to have them give you terrible advice in return? They respond in a way that makes you wonder if they were even listening to anything you said! Those people probably were listening, but they failed to put much thought into their responses. Or, they let their own feelings get in the way of yours. In order to show empathy, you must learn to give advice in a way that is in line with other people’s’ unique feelings, characteristics and personality.
Don’t be quick to judge
It’s easy to look at others and point out their flaws. Sometimes we judge and criticize people without even realizing it. The more challenging and empathetic response would be to point out the good in each person. When we accept others as they are, it means that we understand that they are doing the best that they can do at the time. Remember, if they could do any better, they would.
Try not to compare
The key to accepting people as they are is learning not to compare. Trying to compare one unique person to another is like trying to compare apples to oranges. Unfortunately, we all do it. We compare ourselves to others, and we compare other people to some standard. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” What he meant by that is we will never be happy if we are constantly comparing ourselves to others, because there is always going to be someone who is better, smarter or richer. Instead, we must accept that each person is on a different path in life.
We hope you found this post on accepting others useful for your bullying prevention efforts. If you would like to see how our Bullying Prevention program can help your organization improve click the free trial link below.