The twin hardships of COVID-19 and political polarization are wearing down even the most resilient among us. Unfortunately, at a time when people really need us to show compassion, some of us are finding it harder and harder to be compassionate. Compassion, as Sara Schairer (2019) has explained, is different from both sympathy and empathy. “Sympathy,” Schairer writes, “means you can understand what the person is feeling,” whereas empathy means “you feel what a person is feeling.” Finally, compassion means that you are “willing to relieve the suffering of another.” In short: Sympathy = understanding. Empathy = understanding + feeling. Compassion = understanding + feeling + action. As I’ve reflected on Schairer’s definitions and my own attempts to be more compassionate during these challenging times,

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Neff, K. (2012). Self-compassion: The proven power of being kind to yourself. William Morrow.

Schairer, S. (2019, November 23). What’s the difference between empathy, sympathy, and compassion?

Wheatley, M.J. (2009). Turning to one another. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

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Senior Partner at Instructional Coaching Group | + posts

Categories: Change management, Leadership, Learning communities, Personalization, Social & emotional learning

The Learning Professional

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