Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Short Video on Empathy Featuring Brené Brown

Sue Raffa, PhD, a colleague at Alpert Medical School, Brown University,  recently shared a wonderful animated video on empathy with me. The brief video was created by the Royal Society of the Arts (RSA) and features Brene Brown, PhD, LMSW, a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate Colleage of Social Work.

You can find the video at:

The video offers a wonderful, quick,and amusing lesson on empathy and how if differs from sympathy. 

I particularly like Dr. Brown's  reference to the 4 key qualities of empathy:

  1. perspective taking
  2. staying out of judgement
  3. recognizing emotion; and
  4. communicating what you notice

I also like her idea that empathy "fuels connection", contrasted with sympathy, which "drives disconnection". Empathy, she states, can be operationalized as "feeling with" other and requires a "vulnerable choice". She adds, "To connect with you, I have to connect with something in myself that knows that feeling", which can be painful. Empathy, she notes, is not about trying to make things better, it's about being present and expressing understanding to a person who is struggling>

"Rarely can a response make something better....what makes something better is connection."