For my day job, I support teachers as an instructional coach. The first thing you learn in coaching school is how to listen. This seems basic but is harder than it seems. The reason is that educators who have left the classroom typically want to “fix the teacher” as quickly as possible. The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t work. Plus it’s disrespectful. The only way we get better, after all, is if people care about us and believe in us.
I think this is probably the case outside of education, too. But ever since the 2016 Election, and particularly since March 2020, the idea of listening to people – of having sympathy and compassion for people – has become rare, especially if they disagree with us. As my good friend from college says, “Why be friends with your enemy?” Besides, we know that people in general don’t change their minds
. And maybe empathy shouldn’t be the goal in the first place, as we explored in Issue #226
Maybe I’m a sucker, but I still believe in listening to people and believing in their capacity to change. This week’s issue includes four articles on the theme. My favorite is “My Father, The Fool
,” by Richard Russo. I highly recommend it. If you have time, you’ll find that the other pieces – about caregivers, militiamen, and empathy tips – will also provoke your mind and heart.
+ This month at Article Club
, we’re discussing “Children in the Garden,” by Devin Kelly. Featured in Issue #328, it’s about long-distance running, the nature of endurance, the beauty of the ordinary, and the importance of play and lightness in our lives. Find out more and sign up here