What is the Empathy Game?

This is a favourite of mine from many years ago and I was reminded of it this morning after an ‘interaction’ with my lovely wife. 

We had an argument. Over the dishwasher. Really. It turns out she and I have strong, differing views on how a dishwasher should be used.

Hugging it out afterwards, it struck us how quickly perspectives can harden over such a minor thing. This rigidity can be seen virtually everywhere in society at the moment.

The Empathy Game is a tool used to liberate people from fixed positions.

Basically, you identify a person that upsets you and with whom you have a very different view. For the purpose of the exercise, you are to be them. A partner asks you questions for 5-10 minutes about a range of topics, including that on which you most disagree.

The Golden Rule: you can only answer with valid justifications. You must be utterly convincing and rational. If you judge the person in any way then you lose the game.

People with whom I have done this almost always report later that the relationship has improved. Not because they themselves were doing anything different – the other person somehow “just stopped” upsetting them.

Try it. It’s both fun and profound.

Have a great week everybody.

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