Using Empathetic Accuracy to Better Connect With People

How curiosity builds bridges to new friendships.

Sean Kernan
6 min readJun 1, 2024
Couple hugging.
Pexels Images via Andrea Piacquadio

Years ago, I was leaning back on my couch, daydreaming about myriad things while my then-girlfriend and I watched TV.

I was mulling over how fortunate our existence was, feeling inspired by wildlife documentaries I’d seen through the years — those old school, gut-wrenching, lions-chasing-zebras affairs, where one gets eaten or one starves. They were hard to watch, but they were common in the 1990s and early 2000s, before Doomsday Preppers and Storage Wars took over the network.

I turned to my then-girlfriend and said, “Hey. So, do you ever think about how lucky we are — being human and all?”

She let out a deep sigh, “Ugh, hold on. One sec.”

Then, in this very pained and languid motion, she leaned forward, picked up the remote with a stiff and resentful arm — and paused her latest episode of The Bachelorette.

Admittedly, my eyes had glazed over minutes earlier after hearing some woman hissing about another woman not being there for the right reasons.

She turned to me and with resignation, said, “Yes?”

I said, “Well, think about it. Just imagine if we’d been born as zebras in Sub-Saharan Africa…

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Sean Kernan

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