Generation Wellness Blog

Equipping students + staff with the tools to thrive in school + in life. We are the generation of wellness.

[RESOURCE] Empathy vs. Sympathy with Brene Brown


A great video to share with staff as we start a new school year filled with change, challenges, and the potential for transformation. Staff and students are stressed. Connection and empathy are going to be our super powers this school year.

[0:15] Empathy fuels connection.

[0:17] Sympathy drives disconnection

[0:30] 4 qualities of empathy

[1:00-2:30] Examples that show how empathy and sympathy are different.

Soul Pancake researched the effects of sympathy vs. empathy and on average people who received sympathy were less happy than people (happiness dropped by -6.71%) who received empathy (happiness increased by +6.92%). What is the different between sympathy and empathy? Empathy fuels connection while sympathy drives disconnection.

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[EXPERIMENT] Empathy in Action

This month’s experiment is about connecting with 1-3 people and sharpening our empathy super powers. What better time to do this than right now during so much uncertainty, stress, and grief with the pandemic? Everyone is facing some type of battle and connection is the key.

“Empathy is a way to connect to the emotion another person is experiencing; it doesn’t require that we have experienced the same situation they are going through.” -Brene Brown

Empathy is not trying to fix the problem or share your story, rather it’s about listening for understanding, validating emotions, and expressing words, body language, and tone that create a sense of “feeling felt”.

[EXPERIMENT] The invitation is to reach out to 1-3 people and connect with them. Maybe ask about their “rose” and “thorn” or “high” and “low” during this pandemic. Practice empathizing vs. sympathizing to increase feeling seen, heard,...

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[EXPERIMENT] Communication

Communication is the transfer of information from one person or group to another. One research study showed that communication is 7% words, 38% tone, and 55% non-verbal.

Communication helps us understand others. The inability to communicate effectively can lead to a lot of problems both personally and professionally. While effective communication has been proven to build trust, prevent and resolve problems, and enhances relationships.

I like to use the framework:

Story (state the story in my head is _________)

Thought/Feeling

Desire (what you would like to move forward)

Here is an example of why this is so effective:

Person A: Do you have a minute to talk? 

Person B: Yes. What’s up?

Person A: The story in my head is that you aren’t going to have everything completed for the project deadline tomorrow.

Person B: Oh the story in my head is that my section of the project is complete and we’ve delegated the other two remaining parts to Katy and Jamal. Did you not...

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