Leading modules


Module 2 “Am I a leader?” – Leadership skills

Unit 4: Being empathetic?
Perspective taking (cognitive empathy)

As we have seen very briefly in the previous sub-unit, perspective taking, or cognitive empathy, refers to putting yourself in the shoes of others.

However, cognitive empathy doesn’t include feeling what other people are feeling. It’s more about understanding their cognitive position. Cognitive empathy expands our social imagination beyond our own direct experience. It is what gives us the will and the tools to be effective changemakers.

Cognitive empathy is basically being able to put yourself into someone else’s place, and see their perspective.

A few important aspects to remember related to perspective taking:

  • Consider the experiences and viewpoints of others
  • Improve your ability to understand, empathize, connect and communicate
  • Be a more effective advocate for others

perspective taking

Remember, that even though we might be presented the same scenario, image or situation we might see things differently. There is no right or wrong answer, as many aspects of life influence our perspective, such as: – our experiences, our values, personality traits, information available, personal biases and more.

Perspective taking is a useful skill, particularly in negotiations for example, or for managers. It allows them to put themselves in someone else’s shoes, but without necessarily engaging with their emotions.

A Dark Side to Cognitive Empathy

It is possible to show cognitive empathy without having any fellow-feeling or sympathy with it. It is fair to say that most of us would understand this fellow-feeling to be a key part of empathy.