People | Wellbeing

Building Empathy

Oh Great Spirit, grant that I may never criticize my brother or sister until I have walked the trail of life in their moccasins. – adapted from the Cherokee prayer.

Have you ever heard of someone who can empathize easily? Or maybe you have heard someone tell you, “Can you see something from my perspective?”.

Empathy is defined as, “the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another’s position.” 

When we talk to someone, we may be quick to judge them. When we hear a story online about someone, we may be quick to think someone is bad or good based on a few words. However, before we judge someone, we should try to understand them from their perspective. Why do you think they are acting the way they are? Maybe they have experienced something you don’t understand. 

Empathy doesn’t mean you agree with whatever someone says. You may believe in different things than others. That is fine! Empathy means you are willing and trying to understand someone else’s perspective. 

Like our muscles, we can focus on ways to make ourselves more empathetic. 

  1. Always ask yourself in your head “how would I feel” when someone talks to you about a situation they are in. 
  2. If you find it hard to understand someone’s situation, what can you ask or do to try to understand them?
  3. Be an active listener. Make eye contact when someone speaks to you and really listen to what they are saying. 

Empathy allows us to connect with others and truly try to understand someone else’s experiences. It is a quality that makes us truly human. 


Let’s Reflect: 

Have you ever been misunderstood? How did it make you feel when that person didn’t understand you? What do you wish they did differently? Write your thoughts in your notebook. 

What do you think you can do to be more empathetic to those around you? Do you think this will be easy or hard?

Share Your Thoughts

Did you enjoy this activity? Then share with the iamtheCODE what you learned. You can fill out this response form here. 



Or you can share your experience with iamtheCODE by tagging iamtheCODE on social media using the hashtag #SDG4 and letting us know how you plan to be more empathetic