This Video Explains The Difference Between Empathy And Sympathy

They’re often lumped together, but empathy and sympathy are very differentEmpathy is about making an emotional connection with someone, while sympathy is — generally — about finding a silver lining. Both are important, but this animated short explains nicely how they differ.

The key to being empathetic is to not judge the other person, but to instead recognise what they’re feeling. You’re not trying to solve the problem for them — the goal is to let them know you’re there and that how they feel matters to you. Doing so, however, requires you be aware of your own emotions and fragilities, which can be hard for many people.

That said, there’s a time for sympathy too. As long as it’s not judgemental, trying to help someone find a silver lining or even a distraction from a pressing problem has its place as well. The real skill to be learned is when empathy is appropriate, and when sympathy is appropriate, and what message you send to the people in your lives with each. Hit the video above or the link below to see more.

The Power of Empathy, Animated [Fast Company via swissmiss]


  • That’s a sweet, if simplistic way of putting it, focussing on emotion… But it’s not that simple, I look at the constant news stories about someone being glassed, or being king hit, or having fuel thrown in their face and being lit up.!. Or maybe as simple as watching an athlete hurt themselves, and I immediately have a very strong connection to the pain the victim must be in, it’s almost like I can feel it myself. That’s a very strong form of empathy. I also think of the effect that incident will have on the victims life, particularly if they’ve been maimed or disfigured. Sympathy is what you feel afterwards, or a way to say I feel for you, but I can’t really help. The really sad thing is that those people performing these destructive acts are seemingly oblivious to the pain they are about to cause, they have no empathy, and that I think is an indictment on our society as a whole, and maybe a wake up call for the way some parents are bringing up their kids…!

    • @sockparty… I have no problems with you disagreeing with my comment… what annoys me is when people downvote comments with no real rhyme or reason, what is it that you disagree with…? How about you make an argument for your position instead of just belligerently down voting…?
      Thanks for confirming my point for me, you are a coward…. Let’s see you vote that down…!!

      • Dr. Brene Brown (from
        research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work.
        has spent the past decade studying
        Her groundbreaking work has been featured on PBS, NPR, CNN, The Katie Show, and Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday.

        no qualifications
        That’s a sweet, if simplistic way of putting it

        Basically, you’re full of shit, is why I downvoted.

        What I find interesting is up or downvoting has no inherent emotion attached, however you, like a lot of teenagers these days, seem to take it more seriously, and react quite strongly to an unfavourable vote. This would suggest that you are either a teenager yourself, or are simply at an immature emotional development stage. This is also reflected in your comments about the video; you are thinking about the pain *you* would be in that situation, not about the other person’s suffering, which is quite self-centered – one of the things that is a hallmark of the early childhood developmental stages.

        So yes, I find your attitude obnoxious. You could probably just be content that someone disagrees with you but I guess if you want to add rudeness to stupidity then you will provoke people to reply. Good luck with that.

        • First… Seriously dude, I am no teenager, I’m probably old enough to be your father… Second… I have enough life experience, to allow me to have an informed are thinking about the pain *you* would be in that situationYes.. that is what empathy is mate, the ability to feel what someone else, in pain is feeling….!So yes, I find your attitude obnoxiousNow that we come down to it, I believe most mature, sensible people would find it annoying, when some unthinking lout just takes a swipe for no apparent reason. My original comment was about as innocuous as it gets, It was directed at no one, and hurt no ones feelings. It was just my addition to what I though (and I am allowed an opinion) was a fairly loose article. Which is why I find it annoying when some ill informed know it all, just walks all over a comment, and doesn’t have the manners, or the balls to give a reason for their objection. When my comments have an obvious bias, and they do on a regular basis, I have no problem with a down vote without reason. The reason is inherent to the comment. All I am saying here is well… if you are going to downvote, and there is no apparent reason for it, then it would be just good manners to say why…!

          • No, empathy is having the ability to connect with others’ pain, not think about how it affects you. You’re rude simply because someone downvotes you, as if it’s a crime to disagree with you? You attach emotions to a downvote button? You think people need to justify themselves to you?

            Grow up.

          • “look it up stupid” LOL

            Holy shit Timmy you really are 14, aren’t you? One day you’ll get bored of saying stupid things and you’ll leave this site in peace. I hope that days comes soon.

    • I think the issue is that parents don’t want to take charge of their children, and we are now seeing the results. I worked at a school for 3 years, and saw some of the worst young adults entering our society without a single thread of human decency.

      I mean, when you commonly hear parents say “Can I really do that???” when you say discipline your child, something is wrong.

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