One does not need a philosopher to tell one what empathy is. What then does one need? How about a folktale, a fairy tale, a Märchen? Rather than start with a definition of empathy, my proposal is to start by telling a couple of stories, in which empathy (and its breakdown) plays a crucial role. Both stories are anonymous folktales from the collection edited by the Brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. The distilled wisdom of the ages accumulated in traditional anonymous narratives will do nicely. Now available to listen on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/episode/6pCIwUknKqxZwIqau0m1YW
Empathy means being firm but flexible about boundaries. The most empathic people that I know are also the strongest and most assertive regarding respect for boundaries. Being empathic does not mean being a push over. You wouldn’t want to mess with them. Where such people show up, empathy lives—shame and bullying have no place.
Empathy flourishes in a space of acceptance and tolerance. But acceptance and tolerance have their dark side, too. People can be intolerant and unaccepting. Be accepting of what? Be accepting of intolerance? Be tolerant of intolerance? Yes, be tolerant, but… Read More ›
A Lazy Person’s Guide to Empathy, the book, now available: Expand empathy in the community and individual today!
Empathy: A Lazy Person’s Guide is a light-hearted look at a significant and engaging matter: how to expand empathy in the individual and the community – and do so without working too hard. The Guide includes twenty eight illustrations by… Read More ›
Listen on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/6nngUdemxAnCd2B2wfw6Q6 People treat empathy as if it were an “on-off” switch. Turn it “on” for friends and family; turn it “off” for the “bad guys”. Turn empathy “on” for coworkers, customers, and insiders; turn empathy “off” for… Read More ›
One of the criticisms of empathy is that is leaves you vulnerable to compassion fatigue. The helping professions are notoriously exposed to burn out and empathic distress. Well-intentioned helpers end up as emotional basket cases. There is truth to it,… Read More ›
Short review: two thumbs up. Zaki and his work are the real deal. Zaki “gets it” as regards empathy. The most important take-away: empathy is trainable, teachable, malleable, acquirable, and an expandable competence and skill rather than an unchangeable personality… Read More ›
[Listen to a version of this post with bonus material on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/episode/1OvEwkDD9b3IH66erzehnM?si=MeQ6C1uTQDyYGuAUGbegBw ] People want to know: Can empathy be taught? People complain and authentically struggle: I just don’t get it—or have it. In spite of the substantial affirmative… Read More ›