Social Question

harple's avatar

What specific job, challenge or activity would you suggest to teach these key human characteristic (Please read details!)

Asked by harple (10441points) January 20th, 2011

Going on from this question can you think of a job, a specific challenge or activity, that would teach someone:

- to listen?
– to compromise?
– empathy?

As an example, I think everyone at some point in their life should work as a waiter/waitress…

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22 Answers

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

A life threatening illness can teach that.;)

Hopefully one would learn that as a child or before any illness befalls them or their loved ones

faye's avatar

Working as a nurse on a palliative care unit taught me empathy though I think I had it before as well.

Cruiser's avatar

Other than working as a teacher or caregiver of some sort….jobs teach you how to do your job and don’t necessarily mean those values and traits are real or legitimate….maybe they are just doing their job?

IMO, having good parents is a good starting point. The Scouting program really does stress those values listed as does many religious teachings and programs.

tinyfaery's avatar

If these were “key human characteristics” we wouldn’t have to learn them. I’m not sure they can be taught. Most people are religious and most people are not very good at these basic courtesies. We should learn these things as toddlers, in our play.

janbb's avatar

Being President of the United States. (Or, failing that being a successful manager of people or a successful customer service rep.)

wundayatta's avatar

You don’t need any kind of job. Life will teach you those things. If you happen to be paying attention.

harple's avatar

Oh dear, I’m not very good at explaining myself these last couple of days…

I agree with the fact that these characteristics are (hopefully) learnt as children and as part of the act of growing up…

I was trying to ask if there was any particular [physical] thing you think would be helpful if more people had experience of? I tried asking this yesterday, and the overwhelming response came back that if people could learn the skills of listening, compromising and empathising then that would have the greatest impact on the world.

So I thought I would try and get examples of HOW people think these can be learnt, and ask if there were any specific jobs, OR challenges OR activities that would help these…

For example, you might think that if everyone tried a bunjee jump and faced the fear of the fall and not knowing if the rope is properly tied, that people would then have a greater appreciation of how short life is, and that we should grab every opportunity that comes our way…. That’s just an example plucked from the top of my head, and may not be the best, but gives an idea of what I’m on about.

As ever, feel free to answer however you please, but please understand where I was coming from in the asking. I’m not suggesting that these skills can only be learnt by one activity, I was just curious as to what ideas you had on the matter.

Believe it or not, it was meant to be quite light hearted and give people an opportunity to perhaps talk about unusual or amazing, or special things they’ve done in their lives that have perhaps altered their perception of some aspect of life, and that they would love for everyone to experience!

janbb's avatar


iamthemob's avatar

@janbb totally wins.

wundayatta's avatar

My answer is still the same. If you aren’t paying attention, no amount of classroom activities or workplace activities will help. If you are paying attention, you don’t need those things.

Having said that, there are a gazillion listening workshops out there. You can find them in any self-improvement or spiritual growth workshop. They will teach you about empathy, too.

As for compromising, you learn that in problem-solving workshops. Or you can take arbitration training, or legal training, or ombudsman training. Or you could work as a negotiator for a labor union or a union rep. These are occupations where it’s obvious, but trust me, opportunities to listen, compromise, and be empathetic happen every moment of every day.

harple's avatar

@janbb Great answer!!!!

@wundayatta That’s lovely, and I know and agree. I like to think that I take those opportunities daily; as I say, I was not asking where one can learn traits that are hopefully inherent, merely for peoples ideas on things that they have experience of that in particular would be great if more people experienced as it would help with people’s ability/willingness to listen, etc etc. I’m not asking to you add to your answers if you have nothing more to add that answers the actual question I’m asking. If the question is irrelevant to you, please disregard it with my deepest respect for your right to do so.

tinyfaery's avatar

My parents had none of those qualities.

I think @wundayatta is right. How we learn these things will be different for us all. If I was a waitress, I’d just end up hating people more than I do now. I am so nice to waitstaff and I tip well.

janbb's avatar

@psychocandy Perhaps I should have qualified my statement with “good parenting” but I hope that was implicit.

picante's avatar

Parenting is certainly the mother of all teachers of life skills (all puns intended).

Grounding myself a bit, I think opportunities to volunteer at crisis centers would “teach” empathy; I think any customer service job has the potential to provide learning opportunities in listening and compromising, but so much of that depends on the wiring of the individual—the person’s ability to learn good life skills.

Becoming emotionally intelligent is difficult; and I think the traits/skills you’ve named fall loosely into the EI camp.

Keep up the good work in changing the world, Harple!

incendiary_dan's avatar

I think involving people in group conflict resolution/decision making, and through it learning principles of consensus building, are probably really useful in teaching these things. Most/all traditional indigenous societies teach this sort of social skill. Sadly, we tend not to.

YARNLADY's avatar

Teaching by example is the best way to pass on the traits you are asking about.

harple's avatar

I’ve finally come up with the best example I can….

I think everyone should definitely ask a badly worded question on Fluther (as I believe this one was, given that I failed to get my intended meaning across). In so doing, people would realise what it feels like to be pulled up short and told that what you’re asking is wrong. And in realising what that feels like, we might go more gently with others when we feel that way about their questions.

I also think asking a badly worded question teaches one something about oneself… I have learnt that I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to being made (or rather allowing myself to be made) to feel stupid. In fact, I have learnt that I find myself feeling stupid when someone disagrees with my concept, even though we were actually in agreement, and it was just an idea to be able to share ideas on what things people have experienced that particularly opened their eyes to something or particularly developed one of the characteristics listed. Indeed, I suppose the reason I felt stupid was because we were in agreement, and I felt like others thought I was saying these characteristics may only be learnt through set activities.

So I think everyone should ask a badly worded question because they will learn more about themselves, and even if they don’t like what they learn about themselves, that has to be a good thing.

Thank you all x

Cruiser's avatar

@harple I think you are missing your own point here and being much too hard on yourself. I re-read you OP and all of the answers and IMO think what you asked and the answers that were given all addressed what was asked and subsequently re-defined in your own comment. Forgive me if I am wrong or missing the mark here, but I think you asked “what specific job, challenge or activity would you suggest to teach these key human characteristic to listen? to compromise? and empathy?”

If you read the answer given the is a answer that came up the most and that was parentlng. People act and behave how they were raised….it is really that simple. If the worlds will be a better place because of these traits you list. If we all listened better, we better at compromising and empathetic to others, yes the world would be a better place. But like many here including myself said it all starts with parenting.

I am a scout leader and parents put there kids in Scouts, 1, because it a good program that teaches these very principals you list. As a scout leader now for over 8 years I have seen kids that already have these traits, they listen, they can compromise and are fairly empathetic for being kids…and it is very obvious these kids have good parents.

I can say just the opposite on the kids who are uppity and frankly problematic kids. I am not complaining but it is obvious to me parents put their kids in Scouts with hopes we will fix their troublesome often obnoxious kids and guess what? The parents are obvious to me the real problem.

The traits you list that will make the better world can and do start with good parenting.

janbb's avatar

@Cruiser Intersting because my answer of “parenting” was becasue that was the activity -as a parent – that taught me the most about listening, compromise and sympathy. But it is also true that effective parenting can instill that in kids.

@harple I’m still unclear about why you thought your question was misunderstood too.

Cruiser's avatar

@janbb I find it interesting that you found being a parent as the activity of learning more of the traits too! I was lucky that my parents were sticklers about these things but I see your point in that as a parent you have to really put forth a focused effort to instill these traits in a child and is not as easy as it sounds! That was hard work for sure and leading by example is just not enough! Lots of time outs and loss of privileges were involved!

janbb's avatar

My parents were fairly narcississtic and undisciplined although loving so I had to do a lot of my real growing up after I became a mother. Not easy on my kids, but i got there eventually – I think.

harple's avatar

Thank you!!

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