Ignorance and empathy

This weekend I got into a heated argument with a friend because she said some pretty ignorant things. I won’t get into exactly what we talked about, but basically she didn’t agree with facts and couldn’t empathize with the problems that plague many other people because she was clouded by her own issues.

I think this happens to many of us. We are so busy dealing with our first world problems and don’t realize that we have it soooooooo much better than many other people, even those who may live down the street.

That’s ignorance, and we’re all guilty of it to some extent.

When we form opinions without understanding or even looking up the facts, that’s ignorance.

When we lack empathy for those who aren’t like us, that’s ignorance too.

I’ve written about the importance of empathy in both business and life. I still believe it is the most important trait that one can have.

I think my friend’s ignorance caused the lack of empathy in her point of view. And I probably wasn’t as empathetic as I could have been in trying to understand where she was coming from.

It’s really obvious, but a good combination is to be as non-ignorant and as empathetic as possible, at the same time. But it can be difficult when we are clouded by our environment and points of view.

Have you encountered situations where you identified ignorance and a lack of empathy? How did you deal with it?

I’d love to hear from you. Write your thoughts in the comments, tweet at me @mikewchan, or email me at mike@mikewchan.com.

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