Let’s base World Cup teams on star sign and shoe size!

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, whose birthday is on February 5, would be a star player in the Aquarius zodiac team.

As football fever envelops the planet, with all eyes turned towards Brazil, I want you to imagine a different World Cup. Each country sends their national team as usual, but then all the players are pooled together and divided into teams based on their astrological star sign. So Virgos play Leos, and Aquarians are pitted against Aries, with each team having players from a mix of countries. Who would win overall? Perhaps the power of Taurus, the bull, would be no match for the sharp sting of Scorpio. We might imagine other World Cups, where teams are based on shoe size – the clodhopping size elevens against the nimble-toed eights – or maybe the favourite colour of each player. Read More »

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The World’s First Empathy Museum

Empathy Museum RSA Animate

One of my ambitions is to found the world’s first Empathy Museum – an experiential and conversational adventure space for stepping into other people’s shoes. I’ve just written an article at the Virgin Unite blog where I describe my vision for the museum as both a physical space and a digital community. You might, for instance, encounter a Human Library where you borrow people (instead of books) for conversation, or a Sweatshop where you make clothing under the working conditions of sweatshop labourers in developing countries.

And here’s some great news. Not only have we recently held a fantastically creative ‘hack weekend’ with students from the Royal College of Art in London, designing prototype exhibits – we’ve also received seed funding to help turn the Empathy Museum into a reality. So the journey starts here.

Do check out the article, and share below any ideas you may have for exhibits that should be part of the Empathy Museum.

Posted in art, conversation, empathy, empathy through experience | 10 Comments

Why The Empathy Critics Are Wrong: Empathy Doesn’t Break Democracy, It Makes It

You can always tell when a new idea is becoming popular – people start critiquing it. That’s certainly the case when it comes to empathy, a concept that is getting more public attention today than at any point in its history (the frequency of Google searches for the word ‘empathy’ has more than doubled in the past decade). Read More »

Posted in emotions, empathy, ethics, history, literature, philosophy, politics, psychology, public policy | 3 Comments

6 Ways to Teach Yourself Empathy

6WaystoTeachYourselfEmpathy‘Do not do unto others as you would have them do unto you,’ wrote George Bernard Shaw, ‘they might have different tastes’. This and other ideas for teaching yourself empathy appear in this new article in Readers Digest magazine. You’ll also find some advice from one of my heroes, the American oral historian Studs Terkel, who I rate as one of the greatest conversationalists of the 20th century: ‘Don’t be the examiner, be the interested enquirer.’

Roman Krznaric’s new book, Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution, is published by Random House.

Posted in emotions, empathy, empathy library, empathy through conversation, empathy through experience, psychology | Leave a comment

Why George Orwell Became A Tramp

It was exactly 30 years ago that George Orwell set the opening of his novel 1984: ‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.’ Most people know Orwell for this novel, and his satirical tale Animal Farm. Less well known is that he was one of the great empathic adventurers of the twentieth century. In the following short clip from my RSA Animate The Power of Outrospection, I describe how Orwell learned to step into other people’s shoes when he became a tramp on the streets of East London in the late 1920s. Orwell was one of the major inspirations for my new book Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution.

Here’s the one minute clip.

Roman Krznaric’s new book Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution is out now.

Posted in empathy, ethics, history, literature, politics, travel | 2 Comments

How to empathise with a telesales caller

telesalesWhat kinds of life experiences open us up to empathy? One of my own, which in part inspired me to write my new book, Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution, took place when I had a horrible job working in telesales in Sydney after I left university. Here’s what I learned…

Something like this has probably happened to you. It is a quarter to seven on a Tuesday evening. You are cooking dinner and, at the same time, trying to get your overtired five-year-old to put on her pyjamas. The phone rings. It could be your mother. But in all probability it is somebody trying to sell you something. You pick up the phone. ‘Hello, is that ____ ?’ Your name is mispronounced. You were right. Telesales. You interrupt their pitch, telling them you’re not interested before you even know what they’re calling about. They ask for just a few minutes of your time. You respond, impatiently, that you’re busy cooking and that you’re not interested. And the moment they start replying, you hang up. Read More »

Posted in conversation, empathy, empathy through conversation, ethics, work | 2 Comments

UPDATE! Empathy Sermon at The School of Life (with Stevie Wonder and Nina Simone)

So sorry folks but in the blog post I just sent you about my recent Empathy Sermon at The School of Life many people couldn’t see the embedded video in their email. So here is the post again but this time including a link to the video. Big apologies. Hope you enjoy it…

It was a huge privilege and pleasure to give one of The School of Life’s Sunday Sermons at London’s historic Conway Hall recently. Last time I’d been there was to discuss the power of vulnerability with emotions researcher Brené Brown. This time I was there to talk about my new book Empathy, but that was just part of it. The 500-strong congregation stood at the beginning and end to sing two great empathy-related songs: Stevie Wonder’s Living for the City and Nina Simone’s Feeling Good. There were even little shoe-shaped biscuits from Biscuiteers

Here’s the video from the Sermon in full, where I talk about the six habits of highly empathic people and how to make them part of your everyday life.

Roman Krznaric’s new book Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution is out now.

Posted in emotions, empathy, history, peace building, philosophy, videos | Leave a comment

Empathy Sermon at The School of Life (with Stevie Wonder and Nina Simone)

It was a huge privilege and pleasure to give one of The School of Life’s Sunday Sermons at London’s historic Conway Hall recently. Last time I’d been there was to discuss the power of vulnerability with emotions researcher Brené Brown. This time I was there to talk about my new book Empathy, but that was just part of it. The 500-strong congregation stood at the beginning and end to sing two great empathy-related songs: Stevie Wonder’s Living for the City and Nina Simone’s Feeling Good. There were even little shoe-shaped biscuits from Biscuiteers

Here’s the video from the Sermon in full, where I talk about the six habits of highly empathic people and how to make them part of your everyday life.

Roman Krznaric’s new book Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution is out now.

Posted in emotions, empathy, history, peace building, philosophy, videos | Leave a comment

How old men living in cages in Hong Kong opened my mind

I’ve been giving a lot of talks in the last few weeks about my new book Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution. And almost every time someone asks me about the personal experiences that led to my own interest in empathy. So here I’d like to share one of these experiences – a kind of epiphany – from my time growing up as a teenager in Hong Kong. Read More »

Posted in belief, emotions, empathy, ethics, money, politics | 6 Comments

Is global empathy in decline?

Syrian woman and children, Aleppo, 2013Is global empathy in decline? Are our societies becoming less caring and more narcissistic? Have we become numb to media images of human suffering, such as photos of children traumatised by air strikes in Syria? In this article in the Guardian, I explore the recent decline of empathy in Australia, as well as other countries such as the UK and USA – and try to offer some innovative solutions for reversing the trend.

The article is based on my new book, Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution.

You can find information about my upcoming book events here, including talks in London, Oxford, Amsterdam and Zagreb. Hope to see you at one of them – come and say hello!

Posted in emotions, empathy, ethics, peace building, politics, public policy | 1 Comment
  • Welcome to OUTROSPECTION, my blog on empathy and the art of living. You'll find articles, interviews and news on the fundamental questions of how to live, with an emphasis on outrospection, which is about discovering who we are by stepping outside ourselves and exploring the lives of other people and cultures.

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