From YES! Magazine: “Ever heard of ’empathy marketing’? It’s the latest business buzzword. The idea is that if companies can look through their clients’ eyes and understand their desires, they will be better able to tailor their offerings and gain a competitive advantage.
To me, this is stepping into someone else’s shoes just to sell them another pair.
I believe that the best use of empathy is not in the commercial world but in the social one, where it allows us to challenge prejudices and create political change.
And if you look through history, there are some extraordinary figures who have harnessed this power by engaging in what I think of as ‘experiential empathy.’ This is where you don’t just imagine someone else’s life (a practice technically known as ‘cognitive empathy’) but try to live it yourself, doing the things they do, living in the places where they live, and knowing the people they know.
You might also call an experience of this nature an ’empathy immersion.’ It’s like empathy as an extreme sport—one far more exciting and adventurous than ice climbing or sky diving.
So here is my top-five list of people who took empathy to the extreme, showing how it can transform the social and political landscape.”