Empathy, Now More Than Ever!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Jill Golde

Jill Golde, Senior Vice President, Language of Caring, A Branch of Planetree International

It’s a new day. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic, political turmoil and revelations about systemic racism have been heart wrenching for staff, residents and their families. In senior living and care communities, people have been suffering from an atmosphere of fear, from contracting the virus and from the isolation and new realities the pandemic has triggered.

Most of us want to step up and contribute to solutions but are hard-pressed to know what we can do as individuals and as long-term care teams.

Proposing:  Empathy for a Fractured World

Empathy is the powerful driver of breakthrough change toward achieving a much more just, caring, and compassionate world. NOW, as individuals and teams, we can bring new energy and determination to making empathy a way of life that infuses all of our activities and relationships and sparks inspired positive change.

Says Jamil Zaki in his groundbreaking book The War for Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World: “Empathy is in short supply. Isolation and tribalism are rampant. We struggle to understand people who aren’t like us, but find it easy to hate them. Studies show that we are less caring than we were even thirty years ago. In 2006, Barack Obama said that the United States is suffering from an “empathy deficit.” Since then, things only seem to have gotten worse. … Whenever we fail to empathize, we’ve hit the limits of our circuitry. We must not simply stand by and watch as our world becomes more callous and disconnected.”

It doesn’t have to be this way. Zaki proceeds to share cutting-edge research showing that empathy is not a fixed trait—something we’re born with or not—but instead a skill that we can strengthen through effort. And, there are now decades of research that support this. Empathy is a skill we can sharpen over time and adapt in our everyday lives for the betterment of all.

Moving to Action

Overwhelmed, angry, weary, confused, concerned, impatient… These feelings can paralyze us and our organizations. But that doesn’t have to be. Why not seize the moment NOW to focus everyone on strengthening our empathy muscles for the good of ourselves, our families, our communities and our world, while we also proceed to pursue sorely needed systemic changes?

In a new partnership with Pioneer Network, Language of Caring, a branch of Planetree International, offers the state-of-the-art skill-building program Communicating Empathy: The Heart-Head-Heart Method that focuses everyone on the power of EMPATHY and COMPASSION in health and long-term care and helps us strengthen our skills for not only feeling empathy and compassion, but also communicating these with loving-kindness and skill.  Communicating Empathy is:

  • Proven effective
  • Adaptable to senior living and care communities—for delivery in groups or via Zoom
  • Emotionally uplifting as people connect, boost spirits and focus on what they can do NOW to make things better

With Communicating Empathy: The Heart-Head-Heart Solution, you can reap these results:

  • Residents thriving in an atmosphere of dignity, respect, compassion and support, whose families know it and appreciate it
  • A stellar reputation as a community of choice, with low resident turnover and more referrals
  • Improved resident and family satisfaction, improved quality ratings, and reduced complaints, along with fewer costly investigations
  • Team members who are collaborative and supportive, with significantly less conflict
  • Staff who are more fulfilled, leading to greater loyalty, retention, and referrals
  • …all leading to greater financial health for your organization.

Zaki’s book ends with this call to action: “Building a new sort of empathy takes effort and sacrifice… We each have a choice, and the sum of our choices will create the future.”

Consider Communicating Empathy:  The Heart-Head-Heart Method today. Find out more about the program in the Pioneer Network store and reach out for an exploratory conversation at 314.571.9607 or jgolde@languageofcaring.org.