1. Cultivate curiosity about strangers;
Curiosity expands our empathy when we talk to people outside our usual social circle, encountering lives and worldviews very different from our own.
2. Challenge prejudies and discover commonalities;
We all have assumptions about others and use collective labels—e.g., “Muslim fundamentalist,” “welfare mom”—that prevent us from appeciating their individuality. HEPs challenge their own preconceptions and prejudices by searching for what they share with people rather than what divides them.
3. Try another person’s life;
HEPs expand their empathy by gaining direct experience of other people’s lives, putting into practice the Native American proverb, “Walk a mile in another man’s moccasins before you criticize him.”
4. Listen hard – and open up;
But listening is never enough. The second trait is to make ourselves vulnerable. Removing our masks and revealing our feelings to someone is vital for creating a strong empathic bond. Empathy is a two-way street that, at its best, is built upon mutual understanding—an exchange of our most important beliefs and experiences.
5. Inspire mass action and social change;
We typically assume empathy happens at the level of individuals, but HEPs understand that empathy can also be a mass phenomenon that brings about fundamental social change.
6. Develop an ambitious imagination
We also need to empathize with people whose beliefs we don’t share or who may be “enemies” in some way. Empathizing with adversaries is also a route to social tolerance. That was Gandhi’s thinking during the conflicts between Muslims and Hindus leading up to Indian independence in 1947, when he declared, “I am a Muslim! And a Hindu, and a Christian and a Jew.”
Roman Krznaric (2012) Six habits of Highly Emphathic People. (greatergood.berkeley.edu)