Understanding Empathy Part 5

Understanding Empathy Part 5

Posted 2014-11-22 by lynjofollow

Imagining the experience of the other is an important aspect of developing empathy. Just what is it that drives that person, what lies under the mask they present in public, what worries them, what do they really feel?

This requires an ability to imagine the life of the other and a willingness to enter their world for a while. To gain a sense of what they feel, believe in and value. It requires an ability to hear their experiences, removing our own experiences from the picture so we can truly hear what they say.

As much as we try to put our own judgements and experiences away so we can truly listen and gain insight to another's world, we may still find ourselves disagreeing deeply with their views and values. We could call this "empathic dissent". We can recognise that by empathising with another person, we do not have to agree with everything they say. We can gain an understanding of their world view, political beliefs and moral code by empathic listening without condoning their behaviors or attitudes.

We are more able to gain a sense of the complexity of the world and a deeper understanding of their lives by listening. This may or may not affect our own views and belief systems. It doesn't have to though. It may in fact serve to strengthen our own views. Even when our views are strengthened it doesn't mean we can't be empathic.

Krznaric in his book "A handbook for revolution. Empathy", refers to the Platinum Rule (building on the Golden Rule of doing unto others what we would have done to ourselves). The Platinum Rule asks us to resist the temptation of projecting our own experiences and views onto others. He suggests that we will be practising empathy best when we use both Rules. Sometimes the Golden Rule applies best when we think about what we would like in a particular circumstances and do that, such as visiting someone who is unwell. The Platinum rule could apply when you refrain from doing something because you know someone else might not like it, even though you don't mind yourself. This could include something like not listening to the news on the radio in the car when you know your friend isn't interested. Thinking about both Rules might help us to tune into others in some new ways that enhance our ability to be empathic.


252588 - 2023-07-18 07:39:21


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