I live in an "intentional household" owned by a religions/social organization. One of the community's values is compassion and making the world a better place.
There's a longtime resident in the house who has a problem with hoarding, cleaning up after himself, etc. His personal mess has regularly spilled out of his room and into the public areas, causing serious problems.
Over the years, many in the community have expressed the desire to help the guy. Some people have even tried for a few hours to help - but to no lasting effect.
A few weeks ago, the house's residents put me in charge of the house. I didn't want the job; the residents picked me because they thought I'd be focused and effective. I didn't want the job (I'm lazy) but they all wanted me to do it, so I felt I should.
One of my first changes was to tell the hoarder that he and I would be working on his room, together, for 30 minutes a day. Of course, in addition helping, I was the boss, deciding what he should do, and keeping him on track. Every day, after working, we'd socialize - that was to reward him for working, and entirely deliberate on my part.
For the first week or so it was a disgusting task. The floor was covered in trash, some of which had been there for 10 years. We found a mummified rodent under a pile of garbage. An empath would have been very sad to be in the mess and realize this guy was living in it for years.
I found myself getting a little sad at times, but when working, my strategy was to stay 100% focused on the job, and try to avoid giving any attention to thoughts or feelings. E.g. if the job was picking up money, I'd focus on just picking up money (and not on the smell or the disgusting sight of the candy melted on to the furniture). I was reminded of this video:
While working with the guy, I have attempted to avoid ever saying anything judgmental, despite being disgusted by the room, disgusted with his slovenliness, despising his bad habits, etc. I figured that shaming him would just slow us down.
At first he could barely work 30 minutes a day, but now he goes for more than an hour. His room is better than it has ever been. He's psyched that his living space is finally optimized so that he can do the things he wants to do easily. In a few weeks, he's gone from being depressed and neurotic to happy - in the dead of winter, when many people around here are depressed due to lack of light.
My own reaction to this may surprise you.
At first, I wanted to fix things because his behavior was irritating me. Him doing things the way he's done them for years was going to cause me to look bad. So that needed to change - immediately. Having observed him, I knew it was going to take hands-on measures to fix things. I was pushy enough to insert myself right into his life, immediately. I didn't think of him as a person. If I did think of him, it was to despise him for being such a misfit.
That's consistent with me being narcissistic, low-empathy and results-focused.
Having worked with the guy for many hours, over a period of weeks, things are different.
Having spent time around him, in the middle of his mess, I've got insight into him. I understand his suffering and want to help him. I don't know where that desire comes from, but it is real. I don't despise him anymore. I'm proud that he's turned things around, and hope he can keep it together.