Listening with understanding and empathy is a part of our emotional intelligence (EQ). Did you know that our EQ has a much more profound effect on success than our IQ? It is reported that 85% of success can be attributed to our human relationship skills versus 15% due to our technical knowledge. Whether the goal is to get along with family, friends, classmates, coworkers, or neighbors our willingness and ability to listen carefully will determine how well we get along. Empathy is a powerful tool in any relationship. Using our two ears and one mouth proportionally, will always improve our relationships.
Are we born with empathy? Researchers have found that empathy is expressed in children as early as 12 months. Babies understand the pain and sorrow of others in some ways better than adults. Unfortunately, our busy lives and focused efforts turn our eyes away from the sorrow and pain of those around us. Fortunately, listening and understanding can be relearned and nurtured just like every other habit of mind we care about. The key is to make a conscious effort to turn off our self and tune in to others. When we practice using our senses to look, listen, feel, ask, reach out, and speak with good purpose our empathy improves. Conversely, when we compare, judge, give unasked for advice, argue, demean, and try to read minds – we are listening with our mouths instead of our ears. Here are a few ways to help develop empathy:
- Clear your mind of distractions.
- Listen with context. Walk in the person’s shoes before passing judgement.
- Don’t interrupt or interject.
- Examine your assumptions.
- Reserve judgment and ask questions instead of providing answers.
“If you judge people, you have not time to love them.” – Mother Teresa
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping them up.” – Jesse Jackson
Developmental Asset #2 – Positive Family Communication
Tips for building this Asset Positive communication also means listening to understand a young person’s perspective, not to advocate your position. Be available when young people need you—and even when they think they don’t. Take good care of yourself so when your children want to talk, you can give them your full attention.
Also try this in your home and family: Make it easy for your child to spend time talking with you: Keep an extra stool or chair in the kitchen, den, home office, or workshop area. When you’re in the car together is a great time to chat, too.
In your neighborhood and community: Ask young people you know caring questions, such as: What was the best thing about school today? What was the best act in the talent show? Why? Listen to their answers and respond accordingly.
In your school or youth program: During parent meetings, discuss the importance of positive communication between parents and children.
Open enrollment for Almond Acres Charter Academy(AACA) in San Miguel starts Jan 15. Those interested in attending the academy during the 2018-2019 school year are encouraged to submit a request for enrollment. Enrollment forms can be found on the AACA website.
Requests for grades K-8 are being accepted. Open enrollment will extend through Mar 15. If at the end of open enrollment there are more applicants than spaces available in any grade level, then a random public lottery will take place. After Mar 15 requests will be taken and classes will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.
The academy is hosting campus tours and enrollment presentations in the coming months. Tours will provide the opportunity to meet with Executive Director, Bob Bourgault, and learn about AACA’s philosophy and framework. Tours and presentations are at AACA, 1601 L Street in San Miguel on the following dates and times:
- Jan 25 at 8 a.m.
- Feb 7 at 5 p.m. This is an enrollment presentation and the location will be announced.
- Feb 15 at 8 a.m.
- Mar 1 at 8 a.m.
- Mar 8 at 8 a.m.
For more information, please visit the AACA website or call the office at (805) 467.2095. Almond Acres Charter Academy is a public, tuition-free K-8 school that employs credentialed teachers and administers state-mandated testing to provide families in northern San Luis Obispo County an additional choice in public education. The school is located in San Miguel and is open to all students in all communities. The academy’s mission is to help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul.
- Heart – Who did you eat lunch with? Who did you act kind to? What was an example of you thinking win-win today?
- Mind – What book did your read today? What is the habit of the week? How did you practice math?
- Body – Where did you play at recess? In what way were you proactive? What was the most delicious part of your lunch?
- Soul – Why are you happy today? What was the best moment of the day?
Our mission statement reads: Growing Great Kids! We do this by affirming the strengths and struggles of TeRRiFiC citizens, stretching positive and productive habits of mind, and celebrating the awakening of creativity. This week’s habit is all about the stretch. Thinking flexibly encourages us to look beyond the norm and to try the unexpected. Too often, we settle for mediocrity or fail to consider new possibilities. For Christmas this year I built a wood project for each member of my family. To my surprise they turned out to be nice pieces of work. Between YouTube and the right tools, I was able to build things I never thought I could. I stretched myself and am now a little better version of Mr. B. Questioning our possibilities and stretching our thinking can produce new and wonderful gifts in our life.
The 80:20 Rule! If we want our children to think flexibly, think for themselves, and ultimately work our way out of our parenting job within 18 years, it is critical that they learn to answer their own questions. The 80:20 Rule is a general guide to describe how often we should ask questions versus giving answers. Most of the time (80% or so when they are young) our parenting should involve questions and less time (20%) provide answers. It is essential to flexible thinking that a child use his/her own brain to come up with answers instead of using ours. As a child gets older and wiser the questioning percentage should increase and answers all but cease. One of the ways we can look at our role as parents is that our job is to nurture neurons. When we think flexibly and encourage it in our kids, our brain neurons stretch their dendrites and improve electrical and chemical impulses from one neuron to another – this is what it means to be smart! Lengthy, healthy, and active neurons makes us intelligent and capable citizens.
The old adage of teaching a man to fish instead of feeding him the fish applies to this habit. When we question our children they are forced to think flexibly and consider various options and points of view. When necessary, provide 2-3 good answers and let them choose for themselves. Thinking flexibly forces neurons to stretch to other neurons and in doing so, creativity and intelligence improves.
- Heart – challenge our mind to seek first to understand, then to be understood.
- Mind – “Do the math” – consider another way of resolving a problem.
- Body – write with your non-dominant hand. Attempt a new activity or exercise in a very different way if only to recognize that there are various ways to accomplish something.
- Soul – identify personal thinking patterns that don’t produce positive results and ask yourself if you might want to consider breathing new life into them.
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” Kenny Rogers