Accepting is the ability to see that others have a right to be their own unique persons. That means having a right to their own feelings, thoughts and opinions. When you teach your students to accept others, they will let go of their desire to change them. They will recognize that everyone is different in one way or another. You will start to see them accept each other for who they are.
While we all have trouble accepting those who are different, you can teach your students some skills of empathy to help them understand and accept others. Here are 5 tips to teach your students:
- Don’t try to control the feelings of others
- Allow others to be different
- Give thoughtful advice
- Don’t pass judgment
- Avoid comparing people to one another
Let’s take a closer look at these tips to teach your students acceptance:
Don’t try to control the feelings of others
With feelings, there is no right or wrong answer. So instead of trying to control or change other peoples’ feelings, you must teach your students to accept others’ 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 peoples’ 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, or ignore them.
Being empathetic means having an open mind and accepting these unique differences. Challenge your students to get to know their peers better–even if it seems that they have nothing in common. This will help your students feel closer to one another and better empathize with one another.
Give thoughtful 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, teach your students to give advice in a way that is in line with other peoples’ 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.
Teach your students to withhold judgment of others. 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.
Try not to compare
Your school and classroom is made up of many unique individuals. The key for your students to accept 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. Teach your students to recognize this and to try not to compare themselves to each other.
Thanks for tuning into our series on teaching empathy to your students. If you want to learn more about developing or teaching soft skills, sign up for a free soft skills webinar here.