Thursday, December 19, 2013

What Makes Something Better is Connection

"What makes something better is connection." 
~Dr. Brene Brown

In a world of craziness, busyness, and packed schedules, it can be hard to connect. We're rushing, bustling, and hustling to get our agendas accomplished and tasks complete.

However, true success (whether it's related to the classroom, the board room, or living room) heavily relies on empathy. Empathy requires perspective-taking. We have to climb into someone else's shoes and consider how their feeling. It's hard-- especially when time seems short.

Being empathetic is enormously different from being sympathetic. To use Dr. Brown's words, sympathy usually begins with the phrase "At least..." While sympathy might be well-intentioned, it doesn't actually make anything better.

This five minute animated video from RSA explains it well:

As we prepare to embark on another winter break, slow down and make empathy a priority. The effort will be well worth it. 


  1. Thanks for this simple reminder that change is supported one person at a time....I've been feeling less patient with things recently and need to step back a bit. I had only been teaching for 2 years when I wrote this post on empathy for a grad class: ..and I can never loose that perspective of what it's like to be in the trenches, dealing with everything teachers have to deal with every day.

    In The Icarus Deception, Seth Godin has LOTS to say about connection. A few that I'm...well... Connecting to your post:

    "The new safety zone is the never ending creation of ever deeper personal connections"

    "Connection doesn't play the short game.....There's a huge difference between the shallow pleasure of instant applause and the long-lasting impact of true connection....The connection that comes after the art is appreciated lasts far longer than applause ever could"

    I would argue that many of the principles of the Connection Economy that Seth describes is what is also driving a new age of professional development in education. It's why EdCamps and Twitter Chats, etc have spread like crazy. They spread horizontally and "begin with dignity" as opposed to the industrial model that started at the top and sought to standardize.

    There are some conversations happening in this realm right now in Michigan that will greatly benefit from your work Kristen, and I appreciate that you've got me thinking this morning. -Brad

  2. Sharing this with everyone I know. It's helpful for those of us who avoid people in pain - we need training in how to be empathetic. Thank you!

  3. Thanks for reading. Glad it was helpful!

  4. Thanks for your kind words, Brad. I agree-- it's sometimes hard not to get impatient. Change happens slowly and it's easy to want to "hurry it along." A little patience and listening goes a long way though. Thanks so much for reading and leaving such a thoughtful comment!



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