People become stronger by connecting with others.
Resiliency is the capacity to thrive in adversity. That capacity increases as people build their resources and become more effective at putting those resources to use.
A social network of friends, family, acquaintances, associates, and colleagues creates a resource base. It includes sources of advice and expertise. It holds the potential for a ride to the airport or to borrow $20.
Most of the time that network lies dormant. Knowing it is there feels comforting. While it is wise to avoid overusing a network, that does not mean leaving it entirely alone.
Taking the time for empathy builds resiliency by strengthening links throughout a social network.
• Wisdom. Seeing a shared experience from another person’s point of view is a refined capability. Each experience of empathy increases the capacity to appreciate the complex dimensions to events.
• Social Capital. Expressing empathy contributes something of value to a relationship. Recognizing and connecting with another person’s perspective conveys respect more directly than any other kind of social encounter.
• Action. The greatest value comes from expressing empathy, not simply feeling a connection with others. Expressing empathy contributes to the other person’s sense of wellbeing as well as deepening one’s experience of being with others.
The next post will consider ways to integrate empathy into worklife in a structured, sustainable manner.
There is more on the connection of empathy with respect in my new book, Analyzing and Theorizing the Dynamics of the Workplace Incivility Crisis.