The power of empathy: Helen Riess at TEDxMiddlebury - Deepstash

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What EMPATHY stands for

What EMPATHY stands for

Eye contact. This is the first indication that we are noticed by another person. Every human has the longing to be seen, understood, and appreciated.

Muscles of facial expression. Our expressions are why we have preserved our species because they can show ranges of emotions from disgust to flirtation.

Posture. It is a powerful conveyor of connection through open or closed signals, whether the person should approach or avoid.

Affect. The scientific term for 'expressed emotions' and we orient ourselves to the emotional experience of the other person


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What EMPATHY stands for

What EMPATHY stands for

Tone of voice. When we are emotionally activated, our tone of voice and facial expressions change unconsciously.

Hearing the whole person. It means that we are keeping our curiosity open and saving the judgment against the other person in order for us to fully understand where the other person is coming from.

Your response. Our inner experiences and feelings mirror those of others. We are hard-wired for empathy and we are alive today because of mutual aid and cooperation.


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“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity will not survive.”



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How Empathy Works

How Empathy Works

Our brains are working with shared neural circuits and shared neurons; some mirror neurons so that we actually have an internal experience of what happens to others. So when we hear the expression ‘I feel your pain,’ it’s not just a figure of speech. We are made for this and it happens not just with our loved ones.

Moreover, when we are deprived of empathy, it declines, but the good news is that it can also be learned. In order for us to bring out the best in others, we need to have their specialness reflected back in the eyes of others so they can see it themselves.


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 ‘When we accept diminished substitutes we become diminished substitutes’



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When we collectively come together to bring our best selves to solve the world's biggest, smallest, and most vexing problem, we are able to do so. That is the power of empathy.



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For every question, there is an answer. For every problem, there is a solution. For everything else, there is an explanation.

Here is what I've learned from Helen Reiss, M.D. about the power of empathy.

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