Empathy Vs. Shaming: Helping Others Move Toward Change

I just started a new book and loved this point! I wanted to share: “Another strategy that consistently backfires is shaming people for their unhealthy behaviours.” Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D. From her book (and an amazing new read) “The Upside of Stress.”

People are not often motivated by feeling shamed for behaviours and choices they may already not be happy about. And if they do feel shamed after opening up, the likelihood of them trusting you again or allowing you to help can very likely be compromised.

(I think many who have felt shamed for a habit, decision, difficulty, etc after opening up may very likely know this).

If we are working with people toward change, we can help them feel understood, cared about, and heard first by asking questions, listening, and aiming to walk in their shoes for a bit.

We all come from different places, with different experiences, and with our own reasons for doing the things we do. By asking questions, allowing someone to share what they are comfortable sharing, and by being genuinely interested in understanding, we can make a huge difference.

When the person we are aiming to help feels empathized with and seen (not judged or shamed), then we very likely have been successful in setting an awesome foundation to begin working toward the change the person desires.

(And, if and when we need to, we can connect with professionals able to help in areas we may not be able to.)

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