The Opposite of Empathy

It seems people encourage each other to do what they are doing. If you join a gym, you might urge a coworker to join as well. This makes enough sense. You enjoy something so you try to be considerate and share it with others.

This is best done with a sense of empathy and sincerity. The problem occurs when someone pushes their preferences too much — like when I was endlessly heckled for not having a new car. Not exactly empathy, is it?


Wife and I love our 2002 Saab 9-3. It runs well, it’s paid for, and it’s exactly what we need and want in a vehicle right now. If you think about it from our perspective, you understand. This is empathy.

But I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been pressured to buy a brand new car by peers. It’s sad.

Why all the pressure? Because those peers just bought a new car, and they want to support their decision by getting others to do the same. It might as well be the past-tense version of confirmation bias.

Do you see how it all comes back to self? Whether vane or self-loathing, the proud still need the affirmation of a crowd doing what they have done.

This is the opposite of empathy — forcing your opinion on someone else to make you feel more comfortable.

I appreciate and love these people. I even respect their preferences. It’s too bad they are unable to feel appreciated and loved themselves without the constant need to convert others to their ways.

In what ways do you push people to do things your way?