The challenge of empathy: Reducing distance

The project found 3 key ways of stopping empathy:

  • distancing the other person,
  • blocking them
  • lumping them as a group.

This post explores how we might reduce “distancing” through some questions and possibilities for action prompted by the research.

Empathy is stopped when we find reasons not to get too close to other people, when we make some people less important, when we’re too busy to be bothered, when we find them impossible to understand.

We keep our distance by staying where we feel safe, staying close to home, with the people we know, in the past.

We need distance because we are afraid of something.


Questions to ask —

What is that I am afraid of here?

How does that fear restrict my life?

What can I do to change it?

Possibilities for action —

Extend the comfort zone.

Venture beyond the comfortable.

Reach out to connect.

Find safe spaces to meet.

Acknowledge emotions – our own and theirs.


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