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What's the Difference Between Empathy and Sympathy?

27 Jun

What's the Difference Between Empathy and Sympathy?

Posted By: 
Kaitlyn Guay

You: “I just lost the love of my life.”

Friend: “At least you had one.”

Did that make you feel better? Probably not. That’s because your friend was showing you sympathy, not empathy.

So, what’s the difference?

Brene Brown tells us, “Empathy fuels connection. Sympathy drives disconnection.”

According to Brown, there are four qualities of empathy: perspective taking, staying out of judgement, recognizing emotion in other people, and then communicating what you’ve absorbed.

“Empathy is a choice, and it’s a vulnerable choice, because in order to connect with you, I have to connect with something within myself that knows that feeling.” In other words, she says, “Empathy is feeling WITH people.” Being an empathic person can be draining, but it also takes incredible strength, as it requires a willingness to experience the depths of a past emotion just to help someone else feel connected and understood.

Watch her bite-sized video entitled “Brene Brown on Empathy” to discover the most important way to show empathy, and the frightfully common mistake many of us make when we’re trying to help someone feel better.