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14 Ways to Cultivate Empathy

An antidote to being judgmental.

Linda: Some people are under the false impression that empathy is something that you either have or you don’t. They don’t understand that empathy can be learned. Of course, some people are naturally more empathic than others, but there is huge room for development if there is motivation to do so. There are many good reasons to commit to the practice of becoming more empathic; one of the most important one being that cultivating empathy is the antidote to being judgmental.

If you are truly motivated to have deep closeness with your partner, you have to understand them. A conscious effort can be made to deepen that understanding, and one of the best ways to go about it is to ask penetrating questions. Through your sincere desire to understand their perspective, which may be quite different from your own, you can become closer. Replacing impatience, irritation judgment, with curiosity works like a charm. Stretch into their world; look at issues through their eyes. Factor in their history that has influenced their views to appreciate their style of being in the world.

Here are some practices for cultivating empathy:

  1. Practice committed, non-reactive listening by tuning in to the deeper levels of their message.
  2. Move away from right and wrong thinking.
  3. When you notice judgments in the mind, remind yourself about “different strokes for different folks.”
  4. Become more tolerant and accepting of the values and styles of others.
  5. Make room for the full range of intense feelings in yourself and others: fear, hurt, confusion, anger, sadness, grief, shame, guilt, joy, and happiness.
  6. Resist giving advice even if it’s solicited.
  7. Bring forth warmth, affection, and your open heart.
  8. Be willing to share your own personal struggles to normalize whatever struggle they are going through.
  9. Bring a sense of curiosity by asking more questions, in an attempt to understand the deeper meanings of their experience.
  10. Remember that there is no such thing as win-lose in relationship. There is only lose-lose and win-win. We both win through understanding.
  11. Show respect for the human predicament. We all make mistakes while we are learning.
  12. Understand the distinction between unskillful behavior and their character, and be sure to only speak about the behaviors.
  13. Look for their strengths and remind them of those strengths.
  14. Be grounded in the truth that we are all growing and there is an innate drive toward healing and mastery.

When we cultivate empathy that part of us that tends to be judgmental diminishes and others immediately sense the shift in attitude. Our accepting and compassionate attitude has a strong impact on the relationship. Our partner feels our acceptance and understanding which assists them to accept their own experience, and to accept themselves in general. In the process, the level of fear goes down, and the bond in the relationship becomes more secure.


Linda and Charlie Bloom are excited to announce the release of their third book, Happily Ever After . . . and 39 Other Myths about Love: Breaking Through to the Relationship of Your Dreams.

Picture1Praise for Happily Ever After:

“Love experts Linda and Charlie shine a bright light, busting the most common myths about relationships. Using real-life examples, they skillfully, provide effective strategies and tools to create and grow a deeply loving and fulfilling long-term connection.” – Arielle Ford, author of Turn You Mate into Your Soulmate

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14 Ways to Cultivate Empathy


Linda Bloom LCSW and Charlie Bloom MSW are considered experts in the field of relationships. They have been married since 1972. They have both been trained as seminar leaders, therapists and relationship counselors and have been working with individuals, couples, and groups since 1975. They have been featured presenters at numerous conferences, universities, and institutions of learning throughout the country and overseas as well. They have appeared on over two hundred radio and TV programs. Linda and Charlie are co-authors of the widely acclaimed books: 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married: Simple Lessons to Make Love Last (over 100,000 copies sold) Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truth from Real Couples about Lasting Love, and Happily Ever After...and 39 Other Myths about Love: Breaking Through to the Relationship of Your Dreams. The Blooms are excited to announce the release of their fourth book, That Which Doesn't Kill Us: How One Couple Became Stronger at the Broken Places. They live in Santa Cruz, California, near their two children and three grandchildren. To view our upcoming events and to sign up for our free newsletter, visit our website at:

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APA Reference
Bloom, L. (2019). 14 Ways to Cultivate Empathy. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2020, from


Last updated: 28 Jul 2019
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