Exercising Empathy

Aren’t empathy and sympathy the same thing? They’re close cousins but definitely not identical. They both have to do with making a connection with someone else. You recognize that someone is in a situation which is less than favorable.

In both situations, you might feel pity for that person. The difference is that sympathy doesn’t lead to understanding. Let’s make the difference between sympathy and empathy a little clearer by looking at a possible situation you might encounter.

Empathy, Sympathy and the Homeless Person

Homelessness is a problem in the wealthiest countries in the world. You may have encountered a homeless person yourself. A stream of emotions can begin flowing when you see someone in this situation. Continue reading

The empathetic person takes on the feelings of another. When you act with empathy, you share emotions and feelings. Some people can almost physically feel what another person is going through.

Others might have a less intense experience. In any situation, empathy helps you to understand and relate to others. It’s a social skill that everyone should develop. Empathy can help you build trust in your personal and career relationships.

Like sympathy, empathy means you feel bad about what someone is going through. Unlike sympathy, empathy always means following up with kindness. You do something to try to help the person get out of a negative situation or experience.

What’s really neat is that empathy doesn’t just benefit the person on the receiving end of kindness. Continue reading