Can you learn empathy?

Some easy empathy exercises include:

  • Really listening to a friend. Keep your mouth shut and your ears open. When you want to say something, nod your head instead. Just hear what the person is telling you, believe that what he is telling you about his emotions is true for him, and then listen some more. Don’t judge. Then, listen some more
  • Talk to strangers: This might be tough for introverts, so if you aren’t always comfortable chatting about random stuff, remember that a conversation can happen anywhere, including online. The point is to communicate with someone who is different from you. If you’re older, talk to a kid; if you’re online all day for your job, talk to someone who works with their hands. If you don’t know what to talk about, ask about the person’s work or what their last vacation was like.
  • Think about who made your clothes or your car, or your meal. At the grocery store, imagine whose hands may have picked your oranges, or who made the pre-packaged sushi plate you’ve picked up.
  • Read novels or short stories, or go to a play about people whose lives are different from yours.

By: Starre Vartan