Assume good intentions

Stephanie Brun de Pontet
Stephanie Brun de Pontet

Empathy building comes up a lot in our work with families.  Whether family relations are primarily characterized by care and understanding or frustration and conflict – seeking to better understand the point of view of others is always a good idea. 

When you find yourself at odds with someone (whether family or otherwise) – make a conscious effort to put yourself in their shoes while thinking about the issue.  When facilitating discussions with family where there is disagreement, I often open the discussion by saying: “as you seek to listen and understand one another – listen with the assumption that each speaker is a rational person of ‘good intentions’ and try to consider then, why a such a ‘good person’ would see the issue in this way…”  Explicitly assuming ‘good intentions’ on the part of others goes a long way to building empathy and understanding.

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