Empathy means that you can both intellectually understand the feelings of someone else and vicariously experience those feelings. Product developers, software companies, and a host of other businesses are using empathy maps to better understand their customers. We think that this tool has all kinds of application in the public sector.
Creating an empathy map allows you to tune into another person by considering what that person thinks, sees, hears, and feels. You also consider the person's "pains and gains." Here's a format for your empathy maps:
You can create your empathy map based on people's politics in general (I'm a Republican, so I'd think through what a Democrat sees, feels, thinks, says and does), or around someone who thinks differently than you do on a specific issue. For example, Sarah and I have different views about whether the Second Amendment stands for the idea that people can own however many guns they want. Sarah doesn't think so. I think it probably does (although I strongly support reasonable restrictions on purchasing guns). My empathy map on this topic could look like this:
Hope this is a valuable exercise for you. We'd love to see any empathy maps you're willing to share!