Teaching Empathy: Trust and Openness

trust and openness

An important part of empathy is the ability to trust and be trusted. In the classroom, trust is an important element for success. When your students trust you, they will be more willing to take risks and be more open. When students trust one another, they will talk more openly. As trust builds, there will be more sharing of information, feelings, and thoughts. The more your students share, the more they will relate to one another.

Building trust is something that takes time and effort. So how can you teach trust and openness in your classroom? To answer this question, you need to teach the following skills to your students:

  1. Learn to trust others
  2. Earn the trust of others
  3. Share information, thoughts and feelings
  4. Show weakness and take risks
  5. Be personable

trust others

Learn to trust others

To start teaching trust and openness in the classroom, you need to teach your students to trust others.  Teach them to give others the benefit of the doubt before assuming that the trust will be broken. A good quote to teach this is from Ernest Hemingway: “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”

Earn the trust of others

Another concept that you’ll need to teach is that trust cannot be forced. It is something that must be earned. There’s an old expression that goes like this: “Say what you mean, and mean what you say.” Sounds simple enough, and maybe even a little obvious, right? But when you really think about it, this command is easier said than done. Teach your students to be honest and sincere with one another. This will help them earn the trust of others.

Share information, thoughts and feelings

As your students start to trust one another, they will start to feel more comfortable sharing information. This information can take the form of thoughts, opinions and feelings. The more they share, the better they will relate to one another. Give them opportunities to share information, thoughts and feelings with one another on a regular basis.

Show weakness and take risks

Teach your students that it’s normal to want to hold back in relationships. After all, human nature tells us to put up a wall to protect us from harmful situations. These situations are not physically harmful, but emotionally harmful. Instead of a bodily injury like a scrape or burn, the harm takes the form of rejection, failure, or being taken advantage of.

While no one wants to feel the pain of such emotional injuries, what your students miss out on from holding back in relationships is much worse. Without sharing openly, relationships will never grow. A trusting relationship requires us to let our guard down and potentially expose our weaknesses. Sure, it’s risky, but like any risk, the reward is well worth it.

helping others

Be personable

At one time or another, everyone experiences difficulty opening up to another person. A lot of people think twice before sharing information, thoughts and feelings. They’re afraid of being hurt, rejected or wrong about something. So how do you get your students to open up? They need to work on being personable, or practice relating to one another. Here are some ideas to help your students be personable:

  1. Ask people non-threatening questions
  2. Be friendly to others
  3. Actively listen to others’ thoughts and opinions
  4. Don’t judge others
  5. Don’t interrupt
  6. Smile

Thanks for tuning in to our post 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.

By |2018-06-04T08:56:01+00:00June 4th, 2018|Emotional Intelligence, Life Skills, Soft Skills|0 Comments

About the Author:

Stefan is a senior developer at The Conover Company. He has experience researching and writing online courses for assessing and teaching Emotional Intelligence and Soft Skills. He currently lives in Oregon with his fiance.

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