CULTIVATING EMPATHY: Inspiring Health Professionals to Communicate More Effectively



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15

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How to be Empathetic

Pp. 99-126 (28)

Kathleen Stephany

Abstract

Chapter five presented strategies on how to develop empathy as a lived skill. Becoming more self-aware was proposed as a means to that end through the use of the following techniques: reflective journaling; mindfulness; obtaining feedback from others; learning from lived experiences; and being more conscious of non-verbal messaging. Additional strategies to increase empathy were presented by enhancing other-awareness through: mindful listening; reading other people’s non-verbal cues; making use of open-ended questions and seeking clarification. Practicing kindness on purpose was recommended as another way to develop empathy. In the case in point a social worker revealed how her encounter with a stranger helped her to experience a change of heart. Because learning empathy is an active process and must come from experience, a role-play simulation on hearing voices was presented.

Keywords:

By-stander effect, clarification, closed-ended question, compassion, constructive feedback, empathy, kindness, lived experience, mindful listening, mindfulness meditation, mindless listening, non-verbal cues, open-ended question, other-awareness, paraphrasing, reflective journaling, self-awareness.

Affiliation:

Full Time Nurse Educator in the Faculty of Health Sciences Douglas College, BC Canada Canada.