Empathy is the fourth building block on our social/emotional pyramid that is measured by the Success Profiler’s Personal Skills Map. Empathy is one of the more critical characteristics in our social/emotional pyramid. Without empathy, emotional intelligence is simply not possible.

Empathy is also a critical skill needed in MTSS.   Multi-Tiered System of Supports is a term used to describe an evidence-based model of schooling that uses data-based problem solving to integrate academic and behavioral instruction and intervention (Florida’s MTSS Project). This movement is catching on because it addresses both the academic and the social/emotional needs of each learner.

Empathy is the ability to communicate (send and receive messages) and lead by understanding the thoughts, views and feelings of others. No two people share the same thoughts. Our thoughts and experiences play a huge role in how we see the outside world. In order to truly understand another person, we need to understand his or her thoughts, feelings and experiences.

To empathize is to see with the eyes of another, to hear with the ears of another, and to feel with the heart of another.
—Anonymous English author

Each of us practices empathy in one way or another. If we are paying attention to what other people are saying, we are empathizing with them. We become involved in their feelings and thoughts in order to better understand who they are and what they want or need. We can respond to what they are saying.

Listening—A key for developing empathy

Better listening leads to:

  • better understanding of people
  • fewer mistakes and misunderstandings
  • a chance to learn more
  • better ability to work together

Empathetic Listening—A step beyond

Empathetic listening is a type of listening that goes further than ordinary listening. This type of listening uses another person’s point of view to see the world. It provides a higher level of understanding of how others feel.

There are four stages to empathetic listening:

Stage 1:  Copy what is said.  Repeat what you hear in order to gain further understanding. Repeat it exactly as you think you heard it.

Stage 2:  Say what you hear. Repeat the words that were said without adding anything new.

Stage 3:  Reflect on the feeling. Try to understand the feeling expressed in what was said, going beyond what you think you heard.

Stage 4:  Restate what was said and think about the feeling. This combines stages 2 and 3 in order to understand the message.

Want to learn more about how to teach your students the key social/emotional skill of empathy?  Want to learn how to assess for empathy in your students?