Difference between revisions of "Empathy vs. Sympathy"

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In [[NVC]], empathy is when my attention is with what's going on in the other person. Sympathy is when my attention is with myself, in one of two ways: "I feel for you" or "Me too". Examples:
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'''Empathy'''
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Nick: My boss is a maniac! We've got a deadline coming up, and as always he's yelling at us all day.
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Marty: Ah, are you overwhelmed, and wanting more peace of mind?
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'''Sympathy (I feel for you)'''
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Nick: My boss is a maniac! We've got a deadline coming up, and as always he's yelling at us all day.
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Marty: Oh, that's terrible! He should be calmer, yelling doesn't help.
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'''Sympathy (Me too)'''
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Nick: My boss is a maniac! We've got a deadline coming up, and as always he's yelling at us all day.
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Marty: Oh, i had a boss like that once. She'd freak out every time we were about to go into a big conference, it was terrible.
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Note that sometimes people do actually get some empathy by hearing that others have similar experiences - it may meet their need for companionship as well. As with all [[key differentiations]] we are not judging right and wrong, simple explaining a difference for the sake of clarity. The important distinction here iss whether your attention is with who you're listening to, or with yourself.
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There actually is no broadly agreed upon meaning of these two words. Some people use them exactly the other way around.
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Revision as of 04:42, 21 December 2005

In NVC, empathy is when my attention is with what's going on in the other person. Sympathy is when my attention is with myself, in one of two ways: "I feel for you" or "Me too". Examples:

Empathy

Nick: My boss is a maniac! We've got a deadline coming up, and as always he's yelling at us all day.

Marty: Ah, are you overwhelmed, and wanting more peace of mind?

Sympathy (I feel for you)

Nick: My boss is a maniac! We've got a deadline coming up, and as always he's yelling at us all day.

Marty: Oh, that's terrible! He should be calmer, yelling doesn't help.

Sympathy (Me too)

Nick: My boss is a maniac! We've got a deadline coming up, and as always he's yelling at us all day.

Marty: Oh, i had a boss like that once. She'd freak out every time we were about to go into a big conference, it was terrible.

Note that sometimes people do actually get some empathy by hearing that others have similar experiences - it may meet their need for companionship as well. As with all key differentiations we are not judging right and wrong, simple explaining a difference for the sake of clarity. The important distinction here iss whether your attention is with who you're listening to, or with yourself.

There actually is no broadly agreed upon meaning of these two words. Some people use them exactly the other way around.

Empathy Sympathy
Focus of Attention The focus of attention is completely at the feelings and needs of the other The focus of attention switches between what's alive in the other and me