Tammy Ressman Narena created the precursor to Empatharian: Telesymbols, in 1956. Tammy was my mother, and quite a special person, speaking four languages, living in four different cultures, and having her first language be Russian… She passed away in 2005, after living 10 years in England, 44 years in the USA, and 19 years in South Africa.
In the tribal dances of South Africa, there was much that Tammy intuitively connected with and wanted to understand. Her desire for communication, as a second language learner of English, cut through cultural barriers, language barriers, and emotional barriers as well. She wanted nothing less than a game-changing revolution for the human spirit.
She realized how difficult it was to achieve all she desired, and so she sought allies in high places, beyond religious differences, beyond class, beyond nationalism. For Tammy her work could only achieve success if no less than Governmentsand the United Nations promoted it.
Unfortunately, that was not to be in her lifetime.
At Teachers College Columbia University, Tammy did amazing things in a pilot project with disabled teenagers and behavior problem adolescents. Professors observing saw a level of empathy that they felt was rare. Tammy’s ability to tune in to other’s emotions, to say just the right thing at the right moment, was uncanny. She was present in a way that the professors knew was rare, and they believed it was not possible for others to be. She was unique. They believed and labeled her work, “irreplicable”, something Tammy proudly repeated to all her potential funders. She had never been to college herself, and didn’t know that in order to be funded, her project must be replicable with normal people as teachers. It was a death knell, but she didn’t realize it at the time.
Now we know that we can train people to tune in to feelings and emotions, and to teach individually from an emotional level. It’s not just that you’re born to be sensitive to others, or not. You can be taught to empathize and understand individual differences. You can learn individual learning styles, and it’s good practice now to include group and kinesthetic learning experiences in a teaching activity- to get people moving rather than just sitting still at a desk.
Empathy is a major requirement for living happily in the world of the 21st Century, in relationships with family, co-workers, and customers. As we aim for peak performance in management systems, empathy is a key leadership component. Compassionate communication sees the whole and holistic perspective from each person’s point of view, and conflict resolution begins when people feel truly heard.
The work with Empatharian promotes and develops an empathetic culture between people, building empathy, intuitive understanding, and mindfulness. The time is now?