Empathy Vs. Sympathy: How To Connect The Right Way

Providing comfort and building an emotional connection with someone who is struggling can be difficult. There are two main ways to approach a situation like this, either with sympathy or empathy.

Having sympathy for someone means you feel sorry for them and their predicament. On the other hand, empathy involves putting yourself in their shoes and understanding why they feel a certain way.

Though both approaches may be well-meaning, empathy is generally considered to be the better option when approaching someone who is going through a rough time.

What is empathy?

Empathy is the ability to acknowledge and share the feelings of another person about what they are going through.

“The goal of empathy is to not fix the problem, it is to let the person know they are not alone,” says Nicole Hollingshead, PhD, a psychologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

When comforting an individual, someone who is being empathetic may say the following:

  • “That must have been painful for you. I’m sorry you were put in that position.”
  • “It’s normal for you to feel that way, I know you’ve put in so much time and effort on this.”
  • “I get what you mean, it must be so frustrating to deal with that again.”

Empathy tends to be positively related to prosocial or altruistic behavior, which describes actions that are intended to benefit other people or society as a whole. A small 2019 study found that empathy predicts the willingness to make a charitable donation. A 2021 study also suggested that empathy is a vital motivator in helping other people.

What is sympathy?

Sympathy is the feeling of pity toward the misfortune of another person and treating their suffering as something to be solved.

A person who is being sympathetic might say the following to someone who is going through a rough time:

  • “I’m sorry to hear about what happened. You should just move on and find someone better.”
  • “Don’t worry, I’m sure things will work out eventually.”
  • “That’s really sad, but at least you still have another pet.”

Sympathetic statements can minimize a person’s feelings and may make them feel like they should hide their pain and suffering.

“Although a sympathetic phrase may be well-meaning, in trying to alleviate another person’s suffering, we are implicitly telling them to ‘hurry up’ with their pain or to ‘get over it,'” says Hollingshead.

Empathy vs. sympathy

When it comes to consoling someone who is in pain and trying to connect with them, empathy is a better approach than sympathy.

“Empathy is the ability to understand and to be able to share someone’s feelings, while sympathy is more so feeling sorry for a person’s misfortune,” says Latasha Perkins, MD, a family physician at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

It’s important to understand the differences between empathy and sympathy, which include:



Sympathy tries to alleviate suffering or grief by looking at the “silver lining” of situations, which may invalidate an individual’s feelings.

Empathy acknowledges the challenging situation without trying to fix the problem and validates the person’s feelings.

Having sympathy is feeling concerned for someone without taking the time to acknowledge their pain or struggle, which does not allow for an emotional connection, says Hollingshead.

Having empathy is more reflective, attempting to understand the experience, feelings, and perspective of another person to build a connection with them, says Hollingshead.

Sympathy is more of a pity-based response to the situation of another person.

Empathy involves emotional resonance with another person’s feelings and situation.

Several small studies that used non-self-report measures found that females are generally more empathetic than males. The study method is important because a 2022 study suggested that gender differences in self-reported empathic capacity may be influenced by traditional gender role expectations, with empathy being generally perceived as a feminine trait.

“It’s extremely important that we offer people the space and time to go through their process and to avoid projection by expressing how you’d handle it or how you think it should go,” says Perkins. “Show as much love and care as allowed. Offer space but be consistent with checking in.”

Insider’s takeaway

Although sympathy and empathy are related, they are two distinct approaches that convey different intentions.

Empathy forges a connection by understanding the emotions of another individual, while sympathy is more detached, zeroing in on the sorrow over their plight.

“The most important thing to remember when trying to approach someone going through a rough time is that everyone has their own process,” says Perkins. “Respect and honor that process.”

Carla M Delgado Icon



Carla is a Filipino freelance health & culture journalist with bylines in Insider, Architectural Digest, Elemental, Observer, and Mental Floss. Outside of writing, she works for local theatre productions as a stage manager and assistant sound operator.

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Sara Twogood, Obstetrician-Gynecologist & Flo Medical Expert.

Source: Empathy Vs. Sympathy: How to Connect the Right Way


More contents:

Feeling bad for someone is not the same as empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand the emotions of someone else without feeling the emotions. Sympathy is the physical display of empathy. You hug them, you try to put yourself in their shoes.
Psychopaths have empathy but they don’t have sympathy. Altruism is detached and emotionless, based on doing what is right. Which ones do you relate to? Does this video help clarify the difference between empathy, sympathy and altruism? Get our merch: ➳ “I Am My Own Super Hero” – https://goo.gl/TVnNd4 ➳ “I Will Get Through This” – https://goo.gl/xHzRAi ➳ “My Mind Is Powerful” – https://goo.gl/BVjjEY

https://quintexcapital.com/?ref=arminham     Quintex Capital

https://www.genesis-mining.com/a/2535466   Genesis Mining

http://www.bevtraders.com/?ref=arminham   BevTraders

https://jvz8.com/c/202927/369164  prime stocks

https://jvz3.com/c/202927/361015  content gorilla

https://jvz8.com/c/202927/366443  stock rush

https://jvz1.com/c/202927/373449  forrk

https://jvz3.com/c/202927/194909  keysearch

https://jvz4.com/c/202927/296191  gluten free

https://jvz1.com/c/202927/286851  diet fitness diabetes

https://jvz8.com/c/202927/213027  writing job

https://jvz6.com/c/202927/108695  postradamus

https://jvz1.com/c/202927/372094  stoodaio

https://jvz4.com/c/202927/358049  profile mate

https://jvz6.com/c/202927/279944  senuke

https://jvz8.com/c/202927/54245   asin

https://jvz8.com/c/202927/370227  appimize

https://jvz8.com/c/202927/376524  super backdrop

https://jvz6.com/c/202927/302715  audiencetoolkit

https://jvz1.com/c/202927/375487  4brandcommercial

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/375358  talkingfaces

https://jvz6.com/c/202927/375706  socifeed

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/184902  gaming jobs

https://jvz6.com/c/202927/88118   backlink indexer

https://jvz1.com/c/202927/376361  powrsuite

https://jvz3.com/c/202927/370472  tubeserp

https://jvz4.com/c/202927/343405  PR Rage

https://jvz6.com/c/202927/371547  design beast

https://jvz3.com/c/202927/376879  commission smasher

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/376925  MT4Code System

https://jvz6.com/c/202927/375959  viral dash

https://jvz1.com/c/202927/376527  coursova

https://jvz4.com/c/202927/144349  fanpage

https://jvz1.com/c/202927/376877  forex expert

https://jvz6.com/c/202927/374258  appointomatic

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/377003  woocommerce

https://jvz6.com/c/202927/377005  domainname marketing 

https://jvz8.com/c/202927/376842  maxslides

https://jvz8.com/c/202927/376381  ada leadz

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/333637  eyeslick

https://jvz1.com/c/202927/376986  creaite contentcreator

https://jvz4.com/c/202927/376095  vidcentric

https://jvz1.com/c/202927/374965  studioninja

https://jvz6.com/c/202927/374934  marketingblocks

https://jvz3.com/c/202927/372682  clipsreel

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/372916  VideoEnginePro

https://jvz1.com/c/202927/144577  BarclaysForexExpert

https://jvz8.com/c/202927/370806  Clientfinda

https://jvz3.com/c/202927/375550  Talkingfaces

https://jvz1.com/c/202927/370769  IMSyndicator

https://jvz6.com/c/202927/283867  SqribbleEbook

https://jvz8.com/c/202927/376524  superbackdrop

https://jvz8.com/c/202927/376849  VirtualReel

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/369837  MarketPresso

https://jvz1.com/c/202927/342854  voiceBuddy

https://jvz6.com/c/202927/377211  tubeTargeter

https://jvz6.com/c/202927/377557  InstantWebsiteBundle

https://jvz6.com/c/202927/368736  soronity

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/337292  DFY Suite 3.0 Agency+ information

https://jvz8.com/c/202927/291061  VideoRobot Enterprise

https://jvz8.com/c/202927/327447  Klippyo Kreators

https://jvz8.com/c/202927/324615  ChatterPal Commercial

https://jvz8.com/c/202927/299907  WP GDPR Fix Elite Unltd Sites

https://jvz8.com/c/202927/328172  EngagerMate

https://jvz3.com/c/202927/342585  VidSnatcher Commercial

https://jvz3.com/c/202927/292919  myMailIt

https://jvz3.com/c/202927/320972  Storymate Luxury Edition

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/320466  iTraffic X – Platinum Edition

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/330783  Content Gorilla One-time

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/301402  Push Button Traffic 3.0 – Brand New

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/321987  SociCake Commercial

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/289944  The Internet Marketing Newsletter PLR Monthly Membership

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/297271  Designa Suite License

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/310335  XFUNNELS FE Commercial Drag-n-Drop Page Editor

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/291955  ShopABot

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/312692  Inboxr

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/343635  MediaCloudPro 2.0 – Agency Rights

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/353558  MyTrafficJacker 2.0 Pro+

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/365061  AIWA Commercial

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/357201  Toon Video Maker Premium

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/351754  Steven Alvey’s Signature Series 3rd Installment

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/344541  Fade To Black

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/290487  Adsense Machine

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/315596  Diddly Pay’s DLCM DFY Club

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/355249  CourseReel Professional

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/309649  SociJam System

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/263380  360Apps Certification Masterclass

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/359468  LocalAgencyBox

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/377557  Instant Website Bundle

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/377194  GMB Magic Content

https://jvz2.com/c/202927/376962  PlayerNeos VR






Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: