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How To Show Empathy: Become Better at Understanding the Feelings of Another

Amber Murphy

Empathy is a state of emotionally understanding the feelings and views of a person who has been hurt. Express empathy by putting yourself in their shoes and assuming the situation they are experiencing as your own. People can feel intense pain due to losing a loved one, being struck by a tragedy, having an underlying medical condition, or any other saddening incidence. They need to hear comforting, soothing, and supportive words other than words that will manipulate them. As an emphatic person, be very careful with your choice of words. This article will address ways to show empathy in long-term and short-term tips.

Types of empathy

Two women holding hands

Empathy matters because it enables people to connect hence creating a healing situation from a dreadful experience that was encountered. When one is shown empathy, they feel energized positively. Various situations can make one feel low, and drained. If we continuously interact and keep them involved, they will be able to regain their energy levels after some time. Isolations, loss of trust, tragedy, strained relationships, feeling of unwanted can result in an individual if we fail to show them empathy. So, empathy is a powerful tool that we can practice for an individual who is depressed and undergoing a whack situation.

Empathy is different from sympathy, and some people confuse the two. Empathy is an inborn gift or talent within us. An empathetic person tries to put themself into another person’s shoes. They feel what they feel and view what they view. Empathy is classified into various types; let us discuss one after the other so that you can identify their differences.

Emotional empathy

This is a situation where you feel something simply because someone else has the same feeling. A good example is a sad movie or video. When a villain does something awful to a good-hearted person, we might feel emotional and even shed tears on their behalf. This is what is referred to as emotional empathy.

Cognitive empathy

This type of empathy involves more thinking as opposed to feelings. For example, you position yourself in someone’s shoe. An example to illustrate this is by talking to a friend about a situation bothering you lately. When you feel that the friend has understood you, cognitive empathy is termed.

Compassionate empathy

This is a type of empathy that involves action. By looking at the person and noticing that they are in a needy situation, you will be moved to give them the need they want, if it’s money or other helpful gifts that can suit their situation. For example, a tragedy can result in people losing their belongings and homes. As an emphatic person practice your values by inviting them over to your home and sharing the little food or clothing you have. This act of kindness can surely melt their hearts. If a family member is suffering from long-term illness and they don’t have money for treatment, you can show empathy by supporting their medical bills, and they will feel appreciated and loved.

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Harmful words to avoid when showing empathy

During a tragic incident, many people say awful words. They think that these words are comforting, but they aren’t. Some common sayings we hear are: “it was God’s plan, God needed an angel in heaven, you are not alone experiencing this, stop crying, thank God at least you have other children, did you think he or she would forever, hear my story, you will get another baby or spouse.” this word can seem light, but deep down they can hurt a person and increase their sorrows. They sound offensive and rude, so avoid such sayings if you want to show empathy. Don’t try to manipulate them into feeling better by altering these phrases. You can be silent if you don’t know how to control your tongues. Your presence can reassure them that you care about them and love them as well.

Recommendable words to say

Choose your words carefully. The use of encouraging and comforting words can be so thrilling. Tell your friend who’s in pain: “I’m am sorry, it feels sad to see you in this state, look on the bright side, this too shall pass.” think of many more soothing sayings and express them to inspire and brighten up their moods.

Short-term tips to show empathy

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You might have visited your friend, family member, or any other person experiencing intense pain from losing a loved one, struck by tragedy, or received the sad message of a dangerous illness. What will you do to empathy in such scenarios?

Practice experimental empathy

Words alone are not enough. Allow your actions to accompany them. This is shown by paying much attention to someone when they express their miserable situations. Don’t fiddle with your phone, don’t look aside, and don’t occupy your mind by maybe thinking of what you will have for dinner. Instead, listen carefully by gazing deeply into their eyes. It will make them feel appreciated and loved. Tap gently on their shoulders as well. Some people can choose to hold their hands or cross their arms across their shoulders. Give them a gentle and reassuring hug. If possible, cry with them, let your tears flow and this will indicate a personal interest in the person.

Be encouraging

When someone is in the toughest and darkest most of their lives, they need a friend who can hold their hands, encourage them and support them tirelessly. Your presence can brighten their day, give out those long gentle hugs, tell them that all will be well, and acknowledge your love for them. Choose words that show you admire and have a love for them. Such words include;’ you are brave, you make me proud, you matter a lot, you are talented, and many more encouraging words you can think of.

Share your feelings and emotions with them

Sometimes you may have nothing to say, but let your feelings connect with the feelings of a person who is feeling miserable. Empathy is like an inborn talent so let it flow. You don’t have to force yourself if you feel like you cannot copy their emotions. You can stay calm and pray for them to feel better.

Long-term tips for showing empathy

Woman caring for a disabled woman in a wheelchair

Your family member or friend has been through dark moments in life. Here are some simple tips you can practice if you feel that it has been a while without reaching out. Various ways can be practiced to show real empathy for them so that they can at least have a cheerful mood.

Send your loved one’s emails, postcards, and texts

This act of sending text messages, postcards, and emails can make them feel loved and remembered. Write an encouraging and comforting note. You can choose to quote a verse from the Bible or Quran if they are spiritually-minded people. It will enable them to meditate, feel God’s love and concern hence keeping their faith and trust firmly in God. A special note of one paragraph is enough.

Send gifts and presents to them

Small gifts can brighten up their mood and put a smile on their faces. A gift can be informed of flowers, cards, a novel, snacks, and drinks. Wrap them well and send them to them at their favorable destination. Write an encouraging poem or song and send it to them. It sounds silly, but it’s a powerful gig to apply if you are concerned about seeing an imaginary smile on a dreadful person. We have a list of meditation gifts if you need some ideas.

Visit them once in a while

A busy schedule can hamper you from visiting them. Plan yourself to have one day to visit them and spend the entire day with them. Listen to them, comfort them and encourage them in any positive way possible. Help them prepare a meal, shop for them, wash clothes, and tidy up their house and compound. Listen to a piece of soothing and sizzling music together. Your company can work like magic for them. It will leave them smiling and meditating about the lovely moments you spent together, easing up their awful situation.


Empathy is a state of emotionally understanding the feelings and views of a person who has been hurt. Express empathy by putting yourself in their shoes and assuming the situation they are experiencing as your own. Types of empathy analyzed in this article are cognitive empathy, emotional and compassion. Different situations can help us to know where to apply which type of empathy. Some simple tips for using when showing empathy are: giving a listening ear, showing physical affecting but hugging, holding hands, and tapping the shoulder of the affected person. Send them gifts, cards, and emails with encouraging messages in them. Plan to visit them if you have not done so after a long while. We all want to show empathy and be shown empathy because we live in a stressful world with dull problems, I hope this article helps you practice the virtue of empathy.

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