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What’s The Difference Between Empathy and Sympathy?

When you hear someone talk about empathy, it’s natural to assume that they mean sympathy. After all, both words are related to feeling another person’s pain. But there is a subtle but significant difference between the two words. Empathy and sympathy involve caring about and understanding another person’s feelings, experiences, and circumstances. However, while sympathy is feeling sorry for someone else and offering them support due to their unfortunate circumstances, empathy requires seeing things from their perspective instead of your own. Nevertheless, both are important in establishing connections with others, and being an empathetic person can help you become a more compassionate human being in general. So let’s take a closer look at the definitions of these similar words…

What is empathy?

Empathy: the ability to truly immerse yourself in another person’s emotions and experiences. It can be tough to explain—it’s kind of like a superpower you never knew you had! If you’ve ever found yourself nearly crying when watching a sad movie, or rejoicing when a friend succeeds, then it may be that your empathy is in full effect. So what exactly is empathy?
Simply put, empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person — without judgment. For example, if your friend was feeling down after receiving some bad news, an empathetic response would involve listening intently and offering comforting words or gestures. Whether it’s with friends, family members or even strangers — having the right amount of empathy can go a long way towards making people feel valued and understood!

What is sympathy?

Sympathy, in its simplest form, can be defined as the ability to feel for someone’s struggles. It is a type of empathy that allows us to better comprehend what another person is going through and understand their feelings. Sympathy has been around since the dawn of time, but it wasn’t until the 20th century that we really got serious about it.
In modern times sympathy is shown in many different ways. We hug our friends when they are sad or offer words of encouragement when someone has had a bad day. We send flowers or cards when someone has suffered a loss or illness and we offer help where it might be needed. Sympathy is even expressed on social media via memes, gifs and emojis – because who doesn’t love an animated GIF with a comforting message?

How to show empathy?

Finding genuine ways to show empathy is not only beneficial for others, but can also help you to feel better about yourself. Showing empathy doesn’t have to be hard or complicated; it can actually be fun and creative.
There are many ways that you can show your empathy, such as giving someone a hug when they are feeling down, sending a ‘thinking of you’ card in the mail, or simply being there and listening if they need someone to talk to. You could also offer words of encouragement and support when needed, send a funny meme or image that will make them smile, or give them a massage after a long day.
The main takeaway is that showing empathy doesn’t have to be boring! In fact, with some creativity and thoughtfulness – it can really brighten up someone else’s day while making you feel good too!

How to show your support with sympathy?

You can show your support for someone going through a difficult time by offering your sympathy. You can use these strategies to show your sympathy for others:

  • When someone confides in you about their situation, use active listening to show your interest and support.
  • Use reflective listening to summarize what the person has said to show that you have heard them.
  • You can also use reflective listening to affirm what the person has said or restate their words’ meaning.
  • You can offer encouragement, support, and reassurance to the person who is in pain.
  • You can use positive words and phrases like “You can do it!”, “I’m here to help you”, or “I’m rooting for you.”

4 Sympathy examples:

  • Sympathy example-1: If a friend has broken up with their boyfriend, you can show your sympathy by saying something like, “I’m sorry you and John broke up. Let me know if you want to talk about it.”
  • Sympathy example-2: If a neighbor has lost their job, you can show your sympathy by saying something like, “I’m sorry to hear that you lost your job.”
  • Sympathy example-3: If a family member has been diagnosed with a serious disease, you can show your sympathy by saying something like, “I’m sorry to hear that you have cancer.”
  • Sympathy example-4:If a colleague has been passed up for a promotion they were expecting, you can show your sympathy by saying something like, “I’m sorry to hear that the company passed you up for the promotion.”

4 Empathy examples:

  • Empathy example-1: If a friend has broken up with their boyfriend, you can show empathy by saying something like, “I can imagine how you’re feeling right now. You must be feeling pretty sad and disappointed.”
  • Empathy example-2: If a neighbor has lost their job, you can show empathy by saying something like, “I can imagine how you’re feeling right now. You must be feeling pretty scared, worried, and confused.”
  • Empathy example-3: If a family member has been diagnosed with a serious disease, you can show your empathy by saying something like, “I can imagine how you’re feeling right now. You must feel pretty afraid, unsure of what’s going to happen, and overwhelmed.”
  • Empathy example-4: If a colleague has been passed up for a promotion they were expecting, you can show empathy by saying something like, “I can imagine how you’re feeling right now. You must be feeling disappointed, confused, and maybe even a little bit angry.”

Conclusion

When it comes to empathy and sympathy, it’s important to remember that they are two very different things. While empathy requires us to step into someone else’s shoes, sympathy is more about feeling bad for them. So next time you’re feeling blue, decide if what you need is a hug or a good old-fashioned pep talk. In any case, both empathy and sympathy can go a long way in helping others feel better. The bottom line? Be kind!

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