Empathy or Sympathy?

There are a lot of people who shower their sympathy on you but it’s just a few countable ones who show empathy and those are the only ones with whom you can share your pain and talk your heart out. I came across this simple and a very sensible video showing the power of empathy. Watch the video and you’ll know what kind of person you are – sympathetic or the empathetic.

Differentiating Empathy and Sympathy:

The very first point the video talks about- Empathy feels connection, Sympathy drives disconnection. I made a quick check for the definition of the two words and here is what it meant

Empathy– The ability to understand and share the feeling of another.

Sympathy– Feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.

The definition of Empathy clearly starts with the words ‘ability to understand’ ones you are capable of doing that you are much capable of setting up connection and it’s mostly the much deeper and much valuable connection with people. You are adding a little extra of you when you are empathetic and that little extra is UNDERSTANDING.

The video has showed you the clear difference between the two emotions and you clearly know empathy stands out. You always prefer someone who can understand the emotional pain and suffering you are undergoing over someone who is aware and feel sad for your sufferings because you know the empathetic ones are kind enough and patient enough to listen to you which results in comforting you better.

 How to show Empathy ?

The video talks about the 4 aspects of Empathy. Implementing the same in life :

Perspective taking Everyone has his own perspective over everything in life. Changing your perspective to the perspective of the man who is in pain is the first step towards showing empathy.

Staying out of judgement Well, we knowing or unknowingly judge a lot. I am not saying judging is a sin but we all know not judging is a better option for us in many ways. Not judging someone in trouble is a crucial step towards being empathetic. The more you judge the more you move apart from understanding someone

Recognising the emotion in other person This is probably the tough step but this is where you score 70% of your marks. It’s easy to say a few kind words and walk ahead but it takes a lot of concern and love to understand the emotional drift the person has undergone.

Communicating accordingly – This is a wise step. The ending point and you have to give your best shot. Your words are valuable and precious especially at the times when someone needs it badly. Make sure you have followed the rest of the 3 steps to give the perfect ending. Your words have the healing power and they can bring a lot of difference in someone’s life 🙂

Empathy is definitely a strong way to connect to someone and comfort them with the best of you. And here is what  Susan Sarandon says

” When you start to develop your powers of empathy and imagination, the whole world opens up to you.”

7 Responses to "Empathy or Sympathy?"

  1. Well Vinay, truly a heart touching post once again. I do feel that if I am doing something, then it is the other person who need to judge if it is empathy or sympathy from my end to that person. Let me give you an example, in my case you can judge if I am a person who shows empathy or sympathy to anyone else, but not me. Because I would always feel that I am showing empathy, while in reality it can be an example of sympathy as well. 🙂

    Anyways nicely written post Vinay.

    1. Good post… Vinay, I think that people empathize if they are sensitive meaning, if you put yourself in a similar situation then only you can connect and talk/react sense….when perceived from and as other being, you are only too glad that you avoided the misfortune and feels/shows pity….. Empathy is sahanubhuti in hindi that is sah=similar , anubhuti = feeling… so feeling the same and experiencing your pain as mine’s … while sympathy is karuna , feeling of pity.
      PS. Apologies again for barging in here… I need empathy and sympathy both 🙁

    2. Thank you Alok 🙂
      That’s a very nice point Alok, The other person knows whats empathy and sympathy for him and he is the one who decides the empathetic and sympathetic. I agree sometimes our empathy looks like sympathy to the other.

  2. Sometimes I unknowingly mix the feelings for the two. Nice post Vidya. Like how you have shown the distinction between the two. I also love how Kokila has described it in Hindi. Never really gave a thought to the translation.


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