What attitudes are in the way when you want to show up for others and be a real ally?
Have you ever been in a conversation where your assumptions, discomforts, or beliefs took too much space and you realised what you thought was empathy could do more harm than good?
Our latest guest in the House of Trust, Emilie Goodall, sees finance as a force for positive change and works to that end in various roles at the intersection of private, public and civil society.
After a dialogue with other social finance professionals about individuals’ experience of racism, Emilie started to think. She noticed there’s a very human desire from people who have not experienced racism directly to empathise with that experience and to bring in their own experiences, perhaps around other forms of discrimination.
But there is a risk in bringing your own experience into a dialogue.
It either minimises that person’s experience or seeks to co-opt that person’s experience.
Together we spent some time in a Thinking Environment to reflect on her questions,
– How can we be present and show empathy without taking too much space?
– How can we be at the service of others without being passive to the point of being useless as an ally, work peer or leader?
You can hear our short Thinking Conversation here (15 min)
The power of the act, in and of itself.
“This discussion prompted some thoughts about how just as an active listener, how much you are in service. And that in and of itself can be enough and can be hugely powerful, without having to come up with answers, without having to propose, you know, and “here’s what we do next”. There’s absolutely no need for that, often just being an active listener is, can be very much in service to others in all forms of dialogue and connection.”
Giving Emilie the space to think brought up more waves around “how to show up”:
“The kind of energy you bring can suck the energy out of a room if you’re not careful. Just in the way that you show up. So how can you ground yourself in that sort of presencing rather than absencing or being aware of the energy you bring?”
We talked about empathy, where it makes space for others and when it is not useful (depending on what you believe empathy means…)
We touched on the power of being in the moment without having the need to accomplish anything other than being of service through our active listening.
Now over to you, if you knew that your active listening can contribute to igniting a culture of care and kindness in our workspaces and communities, how would you show up?