Empathy, and what it’s not

November 6th, 2012

Empathy is not a feeling. It’s a commitment.

Empathy is a commitment you make to get someone—to accurately grasp the inner landscape of another individual’s perceptions, and to interact with this individual in a way that is consistent with this understanding.

Empathy requires effort and curiosity.

The presenter who creates beautiful, curiosity-provoking slides for his presentation empathizes with his audience. He gets the people he serves. He sees his presentation as an opportunity to delight and surprise them.

Feelings follow empathy. They reflect that one person has rightly understood and joined another. But it all begins with a commitment to know and understand. It begins with effort.

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