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Empathy vs Sympathy

"Empathy fuels connection; sympathy drives disconnection"

-Brene Brown


Empathy is feeling with someone and understanding their experience in a non-judgemental manner. This means there is a component of listening mindfully with out reacting to what the person is saying. The person expressing their feelings is allowed the space to feel seen and understood. So quickly we can fall into sympathy and disregard and even bypass someone's feelings and emotions even though our intentions are good.

I think there are a couple components to practice to improve our empathy skills.


  1. This first skill is mindful listening. To practice: The next time you are in conversation with someone practice listening to them without responding or reacting right away. Allow the person to fully express themselves without sharing your experience, judgement, or comments.

  2. The second component is to practice responding to that person in a way that they feel heard. Do not find the silver linings, do not start the sentence with "at least," do not go into a drawn out story about yourself. A couple of example responses include:

"I see you are upset about this, would you like to talk about it?"

"I can't imagine what you are going through."

"I am listening and I am here for you"

"I can see you are going through a lot"

"Thank you for sharing, I don't even know what to say, but I am glad you told me."

"I can see how that may be difficult/challenging/hard."


These are just a few statements! Here is the link to a lovely video by Brene Brown explaining sympathy vs sympathy. Empathy is a skill that can be cultivated, it just may take a little bit of practice!


You got this and I am rooting for you!


-Jess


https://youtu.be/1Evwgu369Jw






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