What is empathy?
Empathy is the ability to understand other people's thoughts and feelings from their point of view.
An empathetic person can put themselves into other people's positions and try to understand what it
may be like for them.
Empathy makes other people feel heard and understood. It creates an emotional connection that
leads to trust and understanding. Being an empathetic person may lead people to be honest with
you, tell you their struggles, ask you for advice and take your words more seriously.
Empathy VS Sympathy?
Empathy and sympathy are usually used interchangeably, but they are entirely different processes.
While empathy requires emotional connection and the ability to understand others, sympathy means
feeling bad or pity for someone else's misfortune. A sympathetic person does not necessarily feel
the same or even understand others' feelings; they simply feel bad that other people are
experiencing something hard.
For example, your close friend just lost their dog. As an empathetic person, you know what it feels
like and say to them:' I'm sorry about the loss, I know it is a terrible feeling'. As a sympathetic
person, you do not know what it feels like, but your friend is crying so they must be sad; you say:
'I'm sorry about what happened, my heart goes out to you and your family.'
How can you be empathetic?
To be empathetic it is important to try and see everybody's emotions as valid, actively listen and
support what the person is saying instead of giving ourselves the power to judge them.
Active listening helps build empathy. This is because actively listening allows people to build a
deeper connection to a person and makes them feel as if they are heard.