It is the art of seeing and feeling the situation of another, walking in another person’s shoes, or seeing the world as that person sees it. Empathy involves understanding that person’s perceptions and the conclusions that person draws about his or her life experiences. It does not mean you have to agree with that person’s perceptions and conclusions, but at the very least, you are able to see the other person’s position.

Take the previous example related to sexual orientation. A privilege of being heterosexual in our society is having multiple media, print images, and entertainment that portray heterosexual love and relationships and indicate it is not taboo to hug or give a peck to your girlfriend or husband while in public. These images are not as prevalent for same-sex couples. Therefore, empathy involves being able to understand the other person’s position. To be effective, you must engage in appropriate inquiry and dialog. It also involves building relationships with an individual or particular cultural group.

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