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Brief Published: 22 Dec 2017

OptionB Encourages Holiday Empathy


This holiday season, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg's OptionB.org is promoting online resource #OptionBThere. The site heightens sensitivity towards people struggling with adversity during the festivities and offers resources for loved ones to help.

These include free-to-download empathetic holiday cards that acknowledge the recipient's difficulties, as well as gift ideas for those having a hard time. There are also suggestions for what to say in lieu of traditional holiday greetings, and an "empathy menu" with ideas on small but meaningful ways to offer support.

In partnership with The Dinner Party – a community of 20- and 30-somethings who promote supportive dinners for those who've experienced significant loss – OptionB also outlines how to host an "all feelings welcome" gathering. Here, guests need not fear ruining the mood, or feel they have to get in the holiday spirit. Founded earlier this year, OptionB is also the name of a book by Sandberg that aims to help people to build resilience in the face of adversity.

The initiative aligns with several trends we've been tracking, including interest in more honest, confessional discourse and the growing importance of inspiring empathy.

Among the brands responding, US card producer American Greetings released a commercial in July that coincided with National Parents Day, but followed a couple confronting infertility. The key takeaway was that loved ones can find ways to support those who privately struggle on such occasions.

For more on brands adopting a more honest and empathetic approach, see Tackling Taboos and Compassion Culture: Embracing Empathy.