“Are We Doing Our Duty?”

I am listening to The Long Time Academy which encourages us to think about the future in a meaningful way. Whilst this is much more than a focus on empathy, the basis of this is thinking about future generations and what we are doing for them. https://www.thelongtimeacademy.com/

My belief, supported by many academics, researchers and people with much better credentials than mine, believe empathy is one of the most important aspects of human interaction.

Dr Jamil Zaki, Associate Professor of Psychology from Stanford University is ‘almost obsessed with human interaction’ and states ’empathy is one of the key ingredients that has been making our species what it is… Our emotional connections between each other is what has helped us to achieve.’


Whilst this is not a new article, it certainly rings true today. More than ever, I believe.

For those that don’t have time to read the above article, the key points are as follows:

Dr Zaki is asked to explain the difference between empathy, kindness and niceness.

ZAKI: Empathy is, as psychologists understand it, an umbrella term that captures at least three ways that we connect with one another’s emotions. One is emotional empathy, which is vicariously catching somebody else’s feelings. Maybe someone stubs her toe, and you feel a little jolt of pain yourself; that would be emotional empathy. Cognitive empathy is your attempt to understand what someone else is feeling and why. And then empathic concern or compassion is your motivation to improve others’ well-being.

Kindness is an action that we pursue, and it’s split into two types. If I help you, but in a way that also helps me, that’s cooperation. If I help you in a way that doesn’t help me, or even involves me sacrificing something, that’s altruism.

Niceness, or politeness, is the avoidance of other people’s discomfort. Kindness and niceness can be the same, but they’re not always. For instance, in the workplace, it can feel uncomfortable to give difficult feedback to someone. But if you want the person to improve, the best thing that you can do is to say that difficult thing. This creates a direct conflict between niceness and kindness. Giving polite feedback, in that case, is actually unkind, because it deprives the person of an opportunity for growth.

In Jacob Morgan’s online paper, https://thefutureorganization.com/4-steps-to-practice-empathy-from-dr-brene-brown/ 15 May 2021, Dr. Brene Brown suggests ‘four steps to practice empathy.’ They are:

  • Perspective taking. …
  • Staying out of judgment. …
  • Recognizing emotions someone else is feeling. …
  • Communicating that you understand an emotion. …

Right now, I do think the world is going mad. There is so much hate and misunderstanding across the globe that it is difficult to keep a positive outlook on where we are heading. I for one have stopped watching the news as most of it is very upsetting and there is little I can do about what is happening world wide.

Encouraging emotional intelligence, empathy and ethical thinking is more important than ever. So in light of this the more we can help children become empathetic the more we are ‘doing our duty’.

I look forward to your feedback!

Until next time in kindness,


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