Validium Newsletter June 2021 – Respect

Understanding Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand the feelings and thoughts of another person from their point of view, rather than your own.

Many scientists think that mirror neurons help in empathising with other people. Studies show mirror neurons are active both when you see someone upset and when you feel upset. Emotions enable us to react to situations, such as when anger or fear sets your heart racing.

It may be more difficult to empathise with people we don’t know, or understand. Next time someone pushes past you in the queue, instead of getting mad, think about why they might have done that – a sick child, running late for work, or a traffic warden approaching – and then let it go and show understanding.

We can show empathy by:

  • Listening
  • Opening up about our experiences
  • Withholding judgement
  • Offering help

‘Learning to stand in somebody else’s shoes, to see through their eyes, that’s how peace begins. And it’s up to you to make that happen. Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world’

Barack Obama

How Can I Be Open-Minded And Inclusive?

It is said that interviewers used to decide within the first few minutes if a candidate was getting the job and that people tended to hire employees who were like them.

First impressions matter, however, it is more than that. Many of us use stereotypes and/or prejudices to form our immediate opinion about someone we have just met – by using what we typically understand by how they look, how they talk, how they dress and the work they do. We pigeonhole people together in groups, whereas people are individuals and, like ourselves, have many faceted personalities. It is only through talking to someone you can really get to know them, rather than using internal schema to make rash decisions based on our own, sometimes unconscious, biases.

Therefore, it is important to:

  • Not make an instant decision about someone you have just met
    Be aware of when you are using stereotypes to make judgement and keep that in check
  • Attempt to be inclusive of new people in a group or team to get the best out of relationships
  • Broaden your own horizons by talking to people who are not your mirror image and try to find common ground
  • Accept the best organisations and personal groups are those that are inclusive and diverse

Keep an open mind or you could miss out on developing a great friendship, hiring a bright employee or meeting the love of your life.

Domestic Violence

Each year around 2.3 million people, both men and women, suffer some form of domestic abuse or violence, the impact of which will be long lasting and severe on the ‘victims’ and on affected children.

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has seen a further increase in reports, as many people have found themselves trapped at home during the imposed lockdowns, unable to escape their abuser.

Many regard domestic violence solely as actions of physical abuse in the home. However, it also includes stalking, abuse of power, belittling, controlling behaviours and oppressive control, threats, destruction of property, indecent assault and sexual abuse.

Anyone who is experiencing, has experienced, or is affected by domestic violence should be encouraged to seek support from the Police, their GP, local networks or national charities.

Your helpline can also offer support and guidance for anyone affected by domestic violence or abuse. For further information on this issue visit or