Business, Community & Government, Wellness

Developing Empathy

Esther Perel

Lesson time 16:54 min

Esther defines empathy and uses a clip from her podcast “How’s Work?” to show how a lack of empathy, as well as three common traps, can make understanding others difficult.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Consider Others’ Circumstances • Don’t Make Assumptions • Correct Your Mistakes • Give Others What They Need • Be Aware of Cognitive Distortions • Be Aware of Confirmation Bias • Be Aware of Totalistic Thinking • Put It Into Practice


[MUSIC PLAYING] - I've just spoken with you about the importance of self-awareness. But when we get stuck into too much thinking about ourselves, it sometimes can stand in the way of our ability to think and understand others. Empathy is exactly that. It's that ability to put ourselves in another person's shoes. Empathy is the counterforce, if you want, of self-awareness. It is the yin-yang. One makes you able to think about yourself, the other makes you able to enter the reality of the other. All relationships are this dance between self and other or others, how much I need to know me how much I need to know you. So here is a situation that I have often heard, that people would describe somebody and they say that person is always in a bad mood or that person is always stressed or that person is always critical or picky or. And it's easy to respond from a place of criticism, judgment, frustration, annoyance, like, who likes this? And then every once in a while, you'll find in the group somebody who says, their mother is sick. They have to go to take care of somebody every morning before they come to work. They just lost someone, some circumstance that says this person isn't just a nasty person who's always critical or always in a bad mood. It doesn't make you like it more, but it changes your entire rapport to the person. This person often says no first. And now if you go back to what I told it to you in the first lesson about autonomy and interdependence, often, you will find that people who had to be real risk assessment people, not risk takers but risk managers, because everything relied on them, because the margin of error was narrow, because the circumstances in their growing up was often very dire, they will say no unless there is certainty. I react a certain way to somebody who says no all the time, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't have a better understanding as to, how did they get to that? And that back and forth between self awareness and understanding of the other, between what's happening in the here and now and what is the history that underlies our coping or our styles in this moment, that is the layering of relationships that is happening all at the same time. Now that we're seeing how empathy is essential in our understanding of others, let's dive into some more specific examples of how this plays out. In relationships, you have one constant factor, and that's you, and then you have others. And one of the very interesting things that we do in relationships is we look at sameness or difference, who resembles me, who is different from me. And one of the interesting mishaps that often occur in relationships is that we can assume similarity when, in fact, there is difference, or in reverse, that we can assume that we are quite different when, in fact, we are much more similar. And that is one of the richest of relationships, is that you can't always know for a fact in advance. And so in this insta...

About the Instructor

Known for her innovative approach to love and relationships, Esther Perel is sharing her methods for building deeper connections with every person in your life. Whether it’s with your partner or project manager, you’ll learn how rethinking the basic principles of intimacy, communication, and trust can improve the quality of your life in the bedroom, boardroom, and beyond.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Esther Perel

Renowned psychotherapist Esther Perel teaches you the power—and the art—of connecting with others.

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