Top reasons why empathy is better than sympathy

Updated on November 16, 2013

'Empathy is born out of the old biblical injunction 'Love the neighbor as thyself.' - George McGovern

There is just a hairline difference between sympathy and empathy. When you have sympathy for someone,you pity the concerned person.But when you have empathy you literally feel the agony or any other emotions that person is experiencing. When you sympathize you show pity, whereas when you empathize you show sharing of feeling.

Pitying someone for their plight give a negative feedback as in your sympathy you might strike a wrong chord which could very well be taken as a condescending behavior from you. When you share someone’s problem you always understand what they are undergoing.

Suppose you see a blind person, you are sympathetic to the fact that he cannot see the world and you want to help. What makes you want to help him; you feel you are a little superior than that person because you have the vision which he does not have. You feel it your prerogative that you should help him. You talk with that person saying that you are sorry that he cannot see and if there was anything to done, you would do it.

Pity is something no one likes as it affects their self esteem. If you are empathetic to the blind person you will literally live the life of the blind and immediately you get into the mindset of the blind or for that matter any physically challenged person. You realize they want to be treated in par with any normal person and they do not need anyone’s pity. You behave with them normally and make them feel they are as good as anyone.

You should be empathic to your employers and then only can you be a good boss or administrator. You can live their predicament and you will never degrade them. Since you can read and live the mind of your employers you will be able to see what mistakes they will do and how they cover it up. You will be careful and judicious in dealing with them and this makes you a good businessman and you can never be taken for a ride.

When you are an empathetic parent, you are able to see the world from the viewpoint of your children. There will be no generation gap, but only friendliness. You never feel like intruding into their individuality as you know how it will be when there are too many rules and regulations. You immediately put yourself in your children’s place and literally feel the suffocation. You will be the most wonderful parent, giving the much needed freedom to your children.

When you are sympathetic to your spouse’s problem the feeling is short lived as your sympathy will go away once the problem is solved. Empathy is not like that. It will be within you always and guides you to be a true and loving husband\wife as you will always see things from your spouse viewpoint. There will be no ego among you and you can enjoy a happy and compatible married life.

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” -Leo Buscaglia

Many might argue that sympathy and empathy are one and the same. As I said in the beginning, there is a hairline difference between both and it is always better to put one in other people's shoes to see what it is to be what they are.

Sympathy vs empathy

Which do you feel is better in dealing with people-sympathy or empathy

See results

© 2011 mathira


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