Go Back   English Forum Switzerland > Living in Switzerland > Daily life
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 07.09.2015, 20:14
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Geneva
Posts: 1,975
Groaned at 18 Times in 17 Posts
Thanked 1,978 Times in 805 Posts
McTAVGE has a reputation beyond reputeMcTAVGE has a reputation beyond reputeMcTAVGE has a reputation beyond reputeMcTAVGE has a reputation beyond reputeMcTAVGE has a reputation beyond repute
Empathy and culture

I get the impression that some countries display empathy more readily than others (I distinguish empathy with sympathy, not the same). Members of my family and myself will often wish for a bit more empathy in Geneva (on the streets, in shops, at school/work, on public transport, in neighbourhood).


I am not saying that people who struggle with empathy are unfriendly, but I wonder sometimes if it's not an alien concept in some cultures. I remember when living in Eastern Germany trying to describe "empathy" to a couple of colleagues and even though the word existed in German, they just had no idea of the concept.
Reply With Quote
The following 2 users would like to thank McTAVGE for this useful post:
  #2  
Old 07.09.2015, 20:26
slammer's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Lummerland
Posts: 3,653
Groaned at 79 Times in 58 Posts
Thanked 5,767 Times in 2,126 Posts
slammer has a reputation beyond reputeslammer has a reputation beyond reputeslammer has a reputation beyond reputeslammer has a reputation beyond reputeslammer has a reputation beyond reputeslammer has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Empathy and culture

It's a tough world and life's a bitch.
Reply With Quote
The following 8 users would like to thank slammer for this useful post:
  #3  
Old 07.09.2015, 20:30
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Geneva
Posts: 1,975
Groaned at 18 Times in 17 Posts
Thanked 1,978 Times in 805 Posts
McTAVGE has a reputation beyond reputeMcTAVGE has a reputation beyond reputeMcTAVGE has a reputation beyond reputeMcTAVGE has a reputation beyond reputeMcTAVGE has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Empathy and culture

Being able to put yourself in the "other's" shoes is not incompatible with being realistic and being strong!
Reply With Quote
The following 5 users would like to thank McTAVGE for this useful post:
  #4  
Old 07.09.2015, 20:32
Sbrinz's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Murten - Morat
Posts: 10,961
Groaned at 542 Times in 342 Posts
Thanked 10,567 Times in 5,406 Posts
Sbrinz has a reputation beyond reputeSbrinz has a reputation beyond reputeSbrinz has a reputation beyond reputeSbrinz has a reputation beyond reputeSbrinz has a reputation beyond reputeSbrinz has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Empathy and culture

Every country is a little bit different to the next one, and so there will always be differences in culture. Switzerland is a federation of 26 Cantons, which can be considered as countries. You won't be able to change the natives, and so maybe you should choose to live somewhere else, somewhere more compatible to yourself?
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank Sbrinz for this useful post:
  #5  
Old 07.09.2015, 20:36
JagWaugh's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Eglisau
Posts: 3,973
Groaned at 31 Times in 30 Posts
Thanked 7,214 Times in 2,905 Posts
JagWaugh has a reputation beyond reputeJagWaugh has a reputation beyond reputeJagWaugh has a reputation beyond reputeJagWaugh has a reputation beyond reputeJagWaugh has a reputation beyond reputeJagWaugh has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Empathy and culture

Quote:
View Post
I get the impression that some countries display empathy more readily than others (I distinguish empathy with sympathy, not the same). Members of my family and myself will often wish for a bit more empathy in Geneva (on the streets, in shops, at school/work, on public transport, in neighbourhood).


I am not saying that people who struggle with empathy are unfriendly, but I wonder sometimes if it's not an alien concept in some cultures. I remember when living in Eastern Germany trying to describe "empathy" to a couple of colleagues and even though the word existed in German, they just had no idea of the concept.


After nearly 30 years here, I still find that the Swiss in general behave as if what is not happening _to them personally_ is simply not happening. I don't think the Swiss are unkind, but they can be a bit insular, for want of a better term.
Reply With Quote
The following 15 users would like to thank JagWaugh for this useful post:
  #6  
Old 07.09.2015, 20:36
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Geneva
Posts: 1,975
Groaned at 18 Times in 17 Posts
Thanked 1,978 Times in 805 Posts
McTAVGE has a reputation beyond reputeMcTAVGE has a reputation beyond reputeMcTAVGE has a reputation beyond reputeMcTAVGE has a reputation beyond reputeMcTAVGE has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Empathy and culture

Quote:
View Post
Every country is a little bit different to the next one, and so there will always be differences in culture. Switzerland is a federation of 26 Cantons, which can be considered as countries. You won't be able to change the natives, and so maybe you should choose to live somewhere else, somewhere more compatible to yourself?


If I "survived" in Eastern Germany, I can live anywhere when it comes to "empathy shortage"! I'm just curious as to why some nationalities/cultures seem to be more naturally inclined towards empathy than others.
Reply With Quote
The following 2 users would like to thank McTAVGE for this useful post:
  #7  
Old 07.09.2015, 20:46
VFR on top's Avatar
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Basel
Posts: 714
Groaned at 19 Times in 11 Posts
Thanked 1,528 Times in 548 Posts
VFR on top has a reputation beyond reputeVFR on top has a reputation beyond reputeVFR on top has a reputation beyond reputeVFR on top has a reputation beyond reputeVFR on top has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Empathy and culture

Quote:
View Post
Switzerland...Cantons...can be considered as countries.
Explains the arrogance.

So who was the king of bumfukli?
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 07.09.2015, 20:47
st2lemans's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Lugano
Posts: 18,087
Groaned at 924 Times in 720 Posts
Thanked 19,618 Times in 9,440 Posts
st2lemans has a reputation beyond reputest2lemans has a reputation beyond reputest2lemans has a reputation beyond reputest2lemans has a reputation beyond reputest2lemans has a reputation beyond reputest2lemans has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Empathy and culture

Quote:
View Post
If I "survived" in Eastern Germany, I can live anywhere when it comes to "empathy shortage"! I'm just curious as to why some nationalities/cultures seem to be more naturally inclined towards empathy than others.
Compared to where?

Tom
Reply With Quote
The following 2 users would like to thank st2lemans for this useful post:
  #9  
Old 07.09.2015, 20:50
Sbrinz's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Murten - Morat
Posts: 10,961
Groaned at 542 Times in 342 Posts
Thanked 10,567 Times in 5,406 Posts
Sbrinz has a reputation beyond reputeSbrinz has a reputation beyond reputeSbrinz has a reputation beyond reputeSbrinz has a reputation beyond reputeSbrinz has a reputation beyond reputeSbrinz has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Empathy and culture

I went to Dresden for 10 days in April 1988, and I didn't like it there & I never went back. I grew up in London, but I would never live there.

I am happy living in Morat-Murten, are the people here empathic? I don't think so, but I have maybe changed to meet them in empathy.

.

Last edited by Sbrinz; 08.09.2015 at 02:49.
Reply With Quote
The following 2 users would like to thank Sbrinz for this useful post:
  #10  
Old 07.09.2015, 21:03
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Basel
Posts: 881
Groaned at 19 Times in 14 Posts
Thanked 561 Times in 347 Posts
Meerkat33 is considered knowledgeableMeerkat33 is considered knowledgeableMeerkat33 is considered knowledgeable
Re: Empathy and culture

Meh I think people is generally empathic, but they might not express it.
I mean if you see another person crying you can feel for them without starting to cry yourself, and maybe people think they would want to be alone. Now if you need real help swiss people help a lot, maybe through the state and efficiently which might seem cold, but guarantee everyone a decent existence.
Or by empathy you mean how much they are willing to bend the rules because they see you are in a difficult situation? I guess that depends on one experiences, there must be a threshold and in switzerland it's probably not very high but it guarantees quality for example in school.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 07.09.2015, 21:10
HIAO's Avatar
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Bellevue
Posts: 674
Groaned at 1 Time in 1 Post
Thanked 1,585 Times in 429 Posts
HIAO has a reputation beyond reputeHIAO has a reputation beyond reputeHIAO has a reputation beyond reputeHIAO has a reputation beyond reputeHIAO has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Empathy and culture

I asked in the library for something on empathy.

She said "Do I look like I a give a F**K?"

Yes. That's the one.
Reply With Quote
The following 6 users would like to thank HIAO for this useful post:
  #12  
Old 07.09.2015, 21:36
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: ZH
Posts: 1,466
Groaned at 7 Times in 7 Posts
Thanked 2,227 Times in 823 Posts
doropfiz has a reputation beyond reputedoropfiz has a reputation beyond reputedoropfiz has a reputation beyond reputedoropfiz has a reputation beyond reputedoropfiz has a reputation beyond reputedoropfiz has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Empathy and culture

Oh, yes, I think that folk from different cultures EXPRESS empathy, if or when they have it, in different ways. At the risk of presenting clichés or exaggerations, perhaps there's something in, for example, the difference between various groups upon hearing bad news.

When faced with anyone's bad news, my Macedonian or Turkish neighbours immediately begin to phone the whole family and to engaging everyone, so as to coordinate who will be taking around supper and who'll be driving the kids, babysitting, and going up and down to the hospital. "Don't you worry about a thing. Mustafa is on his way, and we've sent Yasemin to fetch the children, and Hassan is driving down and will be here tomorrow. We'll get through this together."

The Swiss-German folks I know express their concern when they do happen to see the person or a family member, but in general try to be helpful primarily by backing right off, so as to give the people involved in the bad news some space. So as not to intrude, when plainly the crisis-ridden folks are quite busy enough, they stay out of the way, and take care not to expect anything, including generously overlooking deadlines at work, for example. "As you know, Herr Meier's daughter was in a serious car accident, so we will be reallocating the workload. If you'd like to sign the card, it is with Frau Müller."

South Africans I know will phone right away, offer to come round immediately, get ready to mobilise action, and try to find a way to comfort the sufferer by voicing their solidarity by naming the feeling: "That must have been terrifying for you!" or by being co-angry with whomever might have been responsible for the predicament of their friend. "Oh, no! That's absolutely aaawwwful! How dare they?!"

The Germans I know maintain a grave expression and might say: "Yes, that sounds serious," and then - as long as they feel confident the suffering people are not to blame, themselves ("selber schuld") - they will helpfully and very rationally go through a kind of mental checklist of service-providers who may be able to deal with the matter.

The English people I know typically go quiet upon first hearing bad news. And when they do speak it is to encourage the sufferer to keep enduring and to win through. So they may well not address the actual problem, or express their concern only in a brief phrase: "I was so sorry to hear the news,", and might go on to say: "Keep your chin up!" or "Well, no earthquake today."

Are they more or less empathetic, in their hearts? Maybe, maybe not. I guess there are colder and warmer folk, and people who are more or less caring, from any corner of the world. To someone in a cultural group, accusotmed to hearing and expressing things in a certain way, they way others voice (or otherwise show) concern may seem, e.g. harsh or uncaring, embarrassing, intrusive and in-your-face, or breathtakingly cold.

Years ago, an English uncle of mine worked in a huge open-plan office in Hong Kong. A clerk dropped a heavy pile of files. He felt sorry for her and was shocked that no-one jumped up to help, and he went to pick up the documents with her. Later, a local colleague, who had previously worked outside of Hong Kong for a few years, took him aside and explained a cultural difference: he said that, by helping, my uncle had unintentionally shamed the clerk, because his efforts had drawn attention to her mishap. Everyone else had sympathised with her, too, but by looking away, they had helped her to safe face, and that was more comforting to her than his "help" had been.

That anecdote has, in turn, comforted me many a time, when faced with people who seemed to me to be cold and uninvolved.
Reply With Quote
The following 18 users would like to thank doropfiz for this useful post:
  #13  
Old 07.09.2015, 23:12
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Zürich
Posts: 736
Groaned at 8 Times in 7 Posts
Thanked 1,178 Times in 425 Posts
Trollemor has a reputation beyond reputeTrollemor has a reputation beyond reputeTrollemor has a reputation beyond reputeTrollemor has a reputation beyond reputeTrollemor has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Empathy and culture

I totally agree with doropfiz on that. I've lived in 6 countries and travelled in more countries than I can count, and I find that empathy or the lack thereof is just about equally distributed everywhere. Some people go out of their way to help others, some just don't care, some limit empathy to those closest to them while others seem to have an unlimited supply of the stuff. But overall, whether in Yemen, France or Switzerland, I find that most people are good.

What is different is the way it will be expressed and put into action. In some countries they come at you like a bulldozer, others have a more discrete way of showing empathy and concern. Since I can't expect that people will adapt their behaviour to my French Canadian scale, I guess that on more than a few occasions I've missed displays of empathy that were to subtle for me. Living several years in Norway has made me realise that the very vocal Latin empathy shown where I come from wasn't more "real" than the quieter (some migh say colder but it's not) Scandinavian version.

Another thing to keep in mind is that in some countries getting your nose in someone else's business without being asked it's just not something you do. Someone my feel empathy and concern for someone else without doing anything to get actively involved in order not to embarrass that person. Or the empathic response might appear shy to someone used (and expecting) to have the neighbours barging in to help.
Reply With Quote
The following 11 users would like to thank Trollemor for this useful post:
  #14  
Old 07.09.2015, 23:27
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Letzeburg
Posts: 1,970
Groaned at 68 Times in 51 Posts
Thanked 5,005 Times in 1,780 Posts
crazygringo has a reputation beyond reputecrazygringo has a reputation beyond reputecrazygringo has a reputation beyond reputecrazygringo has a reputation beyond reputecrazygringo has a reputation beyond reputecrazygringo has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Empathy and culture

we were with some wonderful German friends last winter, at a Christmas Market in their local village. I turned to the husband and said, "boy, I wish we had more of this back in the States any more."

he said, "had what?"

I said, "this kind of sense of community, everyone together and having a good time around the holidays."

with barely a shrug of the shoulder, he turned to me and said, "it's every man for himself."



I have found people's capacity for empathy is pretty much the same everywhere around the world. what varies among different cultures is peoples' capacity to mask their true capacity for empathy.
Reply With Quote
The following 5 users would like to thank crazygringo for this useful post:
  #15  
Old 07.09.2015, 23:37
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: ZH
Posts: 1,466
Groaned at 7 Times in 7 Posts
Thanked 2,227 Times in 823 Posts
doropfiz has a reputation beyond reputedoropfiz has a reputation beyond reputedoropfiz has a reputation beyond reputedoropfiz has a reputation beyond reputedoropfiz has a reputation beyond reputedoropfiz has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Empathy and culture

Yes, well put, Trollemor and crazygringo.
And more: not just the "sending" of empathy, but also the ability to "receive" it when sent.
You, crazygringo, were picking up on some sense of community that you may have (at least in theory) been only imagining - if your German friend was 100% spot on. Or he was masking his capacity to sense what you genuinely were feeling. Or else you were feeling what was truly there in the market because you, like Sbrinz, are able to meet others in empathy.

I think that on those horrible days when it feels like everything has gone wrong, and the train is too full, too noisy, too lonely and the shopping too heavy... the smile of some well-meaning stranger can turn things around, but only if we've learned not to block all shows of empathy.
Reply With Quote
The following 5 users would like to thank doropfiz for this useful post:
  #16  
Old 08.09.2015, 00:41
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Zürich
Posts: 736
Groaned at 8 Times in 7 Posts
Thanked 1,178 Times in 425 Posts
Trollemor has a reputation beyond reputeTrollemor has a reputation beyond reputeTrollemor has a reputation beyond reputeTrollemor has a reputation beyond reputeTrollemor has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Empathy and culture

Quote:
View Post
Yes, well put, Trollemor and crazygringo.
And more: not just the "sending" of empathy, but also the ability to "receive" it when sent.
You, crazygringo, were picking up on some sense of community that you may have (at least in theory) been only imagining - if your German friend was 100% spot on. Or he was masking his capacity to sense what you genuinely were feeling. Or else you were feeling what was truly there in the market because you, like Sbrinz, are able to meet others in empathy.

I think that on those horrible days when it feels like everything has gone wrong, and the train is too full, too noisy, too lonely and the shopping too heavy... the smile of some well-meaning stranger can turn things around, but only if we've learned not to block all shows of empathy.
Amen to that. How we tune in to others display of empathy is equally important. The funny thing, is that we mostly complain about perceived lack of empathy, but I often find some displays too much to handle for me. I really think I've been too long in Scandinavia, at times I feel my mother is acting all "Sicilian mother" on me and it gets on my nerves. Or I interprete strangers' display of empathy as shallow or insincere when they are in fact just a reflection of the person's culture and personality.

I'm sure I've come up as dim/ungrateful/cold/distant on many occasions over the years, however sensitive I try to be to others.
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank Trollemor for this useful post:
  #17  
Old 08.09.2015, 00:52
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: CH
Posts: 5,104
Groaned at 188 Times in 147 Posts
Thanked 6,066 Times in 3,279 Posts
greenmount has a reputation beyond reputegreenmount has a reputation beyond reputegreenmount has a reputation beyond reputegreenmount has a reputation beyond reputegreenmount has a reputation beyond reputegreenmount has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Empathy and culture

Quote:
View Post
I get the impression that some countries display empathy more readily than others (I distinguish empathy with sympathy, not the same). Members of my family and myself will often wish for a bit more empathy in Geneva (on the streets, in shops, at school/work, on public transport, in neighbourhood).


I am not saying that people who struggle with empathy are unfriendly, but I wonder sometimes if it's not an alien concept in some cultures. I remember when living in Eastern Germany trying to describe "empathy" to a couple of colleagues and even though the word existed in German, they just had no idea of the concept.
One can relate to other people's problems, however, not to all people's problems.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 08.09.2015, 02:43
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: ZH
Posts: 1,466
Groaned at 7 Times in 7 Posts
Thanked 2,227 Times in 823 Posts
doropfiz has a reputation beyond reputedoropfiz has a reputation beyond reputedoropfiz has a reputation beyond reputedoropfiz has a reputation beyond reputedoropfiz has a reputation beyond reputedoropfiz has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Empathy and culture

Yes, greenmount. Some people's problems just don't seem like problems for others. Hence those ongoing laundry-room grumbles, or the threads about anyone else’s transgressions on the public transport or on the street. And then there are problems which feel far, far out, such as perhaps the person who imagines something scarily paranoid. Or even the problems which are acknowledged to be real, but are outside of many of our experiences, such as being a refugee, uncertain and on foot, as winter draws in.

Attitudes also change across our lifetimes, and with the historical age. I remember my grandmother telling me that over time, certain kinds of reactions become regarded as appropriate to a particular kind of circumstance. In peace-time, a family member’s untimely death is seemingly automatically regarded as tragic. She said that in war-time, sometimes such a death was regarded primarily as a relief (though sad), especially if the person had been wounded or if there were no means to feed them.

One can’t fake empathy. If I don’t Get It about what is going on, I can’t show empathy. McTAVGE, I think that’s the part where I so agree with you. How much nicer the world would be…! I often wish that even when people can’t feel the same thing as the strangers around them, they would at least grant that the others do have feelings and reasons for their position.

I think compassion can bridge the gap. Even when we can’t relate because we cannot feel as the other person does and say, sympathetically: "I know just how you feel", when we cannot relate empathically as in: “I see you in your need,” even when we can’t understand what they’re saying or why they’re behaving as they do, then – in the best case, as long as we’re not already too down, preoccupied, tired or busy – it is only thanks to compassion that we can reach out across the lack-of-empathy to ask how life must be for the other, and what they need to make things better.

Society is moving fast, and some aspects are going to change quite significantly, with technological and economic changes, wars and refugees and changing patterns of distribution of populations and resources. I wonder whether we’ll end up coping emotionally only by shutting down, protecting ourselves from all the news of all the problems, each closing our hearts to stay safe in our own shell, or whether we’ll develop in the other direction, of necessity (and maybe out of desire) becoming naturally more attuned to understanding those around us, and in turn being understood.
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank doropfiz for this useful post:
  #19  
Old 08.09.2015, 05:54
JagWaugh's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Eglisau
Posts: 3,973
Groaned at 31 Times in 30 Posts
Thanked 7,214 Times in 2,905 Posts
JagWaugh has a reputation beyond reputeJagWaugh has a reputation beyond reputeJagWaugh has a reputation beyond reputeJagWaugh has a reputation beyond reputeJagWaugh has a reputation beyond reputeJagWaugh has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Empathy and culture

Being me I'm a bit quirky...


Whenever I'm in the Baucenter and see some poor soul staring helplessly at a wall of plumbing fixtures or screws or such, if there are no staff around (increasingly the case) I will generally ask what they are trying to make or fix.


Time was the taboo against talking to strangers was a lot stronger, whereas I used to get a reaction of shock, that is no longer the case.


Empathy is not _just_ about major problems, it is more basic than that.
Reply With Quote
The following 5 users would like to thank JagWaugh for this useful post:
  #20  
Old 08.09.2015, 08:48
Wollishofener's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Glattbrugg
Posts: 19,028
Groaned at 333 Times in 258 Posts
Thanked 11,712 Times in 6,857 Posts
Wollishofener has a reputation beyond reputeWollishofener has a reputation beyond reputeWollishofener has a reputation beyond reputeWollishofener has a reputation beyond reputeWollishofener has a reputation beyond reputeWollishofener has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Empathy and culture

Quote:
View Post
I get the impression that some countries display empathy more readily than others (I distinguish empathy with sympathy, not the same). Members of my family and myself will often wish for a bit more empathy in Geneva (on the streets, in shops, at school/work, on public transport, in neighbourhood).


I am not saying that people who struggle with empathy are unfriendly, but I wonder sometimes if it's not an alien concept in some cultures. I remember when living in Eastern Germany trying to describe "empathy" to a couple of colleagues and even though the word existed in German, they just had no idea of the concept.

in German language the word Empathie does exist theoretically but not in practice. The words to be used are
MITGEFüHL & EINFüHLUNGSVERMöGEN
Reply With Quote
The following 4 users would like to thank Wollishofener for this useful post:
Reply




Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
German Language and culture Davidinzurich Language corner 33 03.10.2013 13:37
Chinese Language and Culture swissdebby Commercial 0 24.02.2011 12:34
Modern western culture superior to any other culture ever? scribble International affairs/politics 134 07.02.2011 20:30
About culture and cultures? boccalino Forum support 7 19.03.2008 11:43


All times are GMT +2. The time now is 18:39.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
LinkBacks Enabled by vBSEO 3.1.0