Written by our Founder and CEO, our Celebrations Pulse Sunday Letters aim to engage with our community. From sharing stories to welcoming your ideas, we want to help you to express, connect, and celebrate the important people in your life.
Empathy is the ability to understand someone else’s emotions, see things from their point of view, and essentially feel what they’re feeling. Empathetic people pick up on other’s emotions and act accordingly.
Interestingly, being empathetic strengthens relationships. “Becoming more empathetic is the ability to step outside of one’s own shoes, figuratively, and into another’s,” says Sarah DeCato, a home care nurse and hospice community liaison. When you do so, you forge a stronger connection, she adds.
Selfless people are motivated to share their time, themselves, and their thoughtfulness. Sometimes, their acts are referred to simply as doing good deeds or engaging in random acts of kindness. We like to think of their actions as people working to strengthen their empathy muscles.
In our busy lives, we often forget that some in our community, particularly the elderly, lonely, and disadvantaged might need an occasional hand of help to make their lives a bit easier. Everyone should think about how they can strengthen their empathy muscles.
Shoveling snow instead of training
We saw a story in late January about a suburban Pittsburgh high school coach who had to cancel his football team’s weightlifting session because of a winter storm. The coach got creative and tweeted to his team that instead of going to school to work out, he wanted his players to “find an elderly or disabled neighbor and shovel their driveway. Don’t accept any money — that’s our Monday workout.”
Forty teens shoveled snow, including one 16-year-old who spent seven hours clearing two driveways, and when he was finished, volunteered at a spaghetti dinner for homeless veterans. Lending a hand, he said, “makes me feel like a part of something bigger than myself.”
The gift of caring
Atiq Lucas was a star football player at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. Day after day, he noticed a young man with a disability who was sitting alone in the school’s cafeteria. Atiq pulled up a seat and got to know him. He was a stranger no more. The next day, Atiq invited the young man to sit with the entire football team to share a meal.
As a result of Atiq’s compassion and social standing, the young man was embraced by the team and became something of a team mascot. He traveled with the players and kept statistics for the team while he watched games from the team’s bench. Atiq’s empathy and generosity changed this young man’s life!
Jim heard about Atiq’s story and knew this was exactly the type of person who would be a fit with the 1-800-FLOWERS team. Atiq continues to have a mentee-mentor relationship with Jim even though he moved to another company.
Atiq’s and the Pittsburgh high school’s stories are real-life examples of people building their empathy muscles.
Caring for our co-workers
We’re lucky to be surrounded by empathetic people. Every day, our customers express their empathy for others by buying gifts for their friends and loved ones. We also see acts of empathy across our company.
One of our long-time employees, Bibi, who has been at the 1-800-FLOWERS for over 30 years told Jim a story about her team that speaks to the power of empathy, not to mention the strong relationships formed at work.
Amy had become virtual friends with Mary, another customer service representative who lives in Colorado. Amy, who lived and worked in British Columbia, revealed that she needed to undergo surgery, but as a single mother, she had no way of taking care of her kids during her recovery.
To Amy’s surprise, her new friend, Mary, took a week off from work and helped Amy through her recovery.
Use Your Power
We all have the power to impact how someone feels and can make their day by sharing our time, ourselves and our thoughtfulness. Small gestures of kindness multiply and spread more kindness in the world.
All the best,
Chris and Jim