Empathy, Sympathy & Emotional Intelligence

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Empathy, Sympathy & Emotional Intelligence

Postby Sabina » Sun Apr 11, 2010 2:54 pm

I've been thinking some more about empathy... and observed some more. So, here is some food for thought.
For all those who think they have empathy, ask yourself the following...
Have you ever misjudged a person?
If you have, then [color=#7e0000]where was your empathy during all the misjudging you did?[/color]

From what I have observed, and I do enjoy observing people... always have... it seems to me that more [color=#004585]people like to think[/color] that they have empathy than the number of people who actually do have it.

Another thought worth considering is that people talk about empathy when they actually mean something else....
They say empathy, but they mean sympathy.
Or, they say empathy, but they mean emotional intelligence.

All three are important and helpful in daily life, but calling it all by the same name is... stupid.
Yes, using the word "stupid" is just not emotionally intelligent.
That would be an example of that. Not an example of a person who doesn't have empathy.
Just to illustrate what I'm talking about.

Protective feelings towards the week, the old, the very young, the troubled, the addicts, the abused, etc. would rather be sympathy. Again, not necessarily empathy.

Think about it.
Feel free to debate me on this.
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Re: Empathy, Sympathy & Emotional Intelligence

Postby mirjana » Sun Apr 11, 2010 4:48 pm

[quote="Sabina"]I've been thinking some more about empathy... and observed some more. So, here is some food for thought.
For all those who think they have empathy, ask yourself the following...
Have you ever misjudged a person?
If you have, then [color=#7e0000]where was your empathy during all the misjudging you did?[/color]

I have not thought about it from that perspective, and actually this is a very good way to check our conviction about personal empathy. It should not happen to anybody who considers her/himself as an empathic person to misjudge a person, or even to judge the person from the point of view of any kind of judging. These two do not go together.
For example two girls or two guys can think about themselves to be empathic because they understand well each other. But, if there is a lack of same way of communication with others, then it will only show that in the first case it hasn’t been empathy but something else, good understanding for example. As Kris said in the topic Empathy, it is easy to mix empathy and sympathy. empathy-t115.html
People tend to say that somebody is not empathic if they do not have sympathy for the person. Or, because the person doesn’t think as I do, such a person is not an empath, but myself, who judges somebody like that, I would be. Strange and funny conclusion again…
I used to think that I am empathy. Now, I am not so sure. Why?
There are few reasons why I am not sure any more, which eventually can be helpful to others too for putting their personal thoughts about this into another perspective:
-It happened to me to misjudge the person;
-Even worse, it happened to me to excuse my misjudging by another judging which is even worse, like it is not that my friend didn’t like me and therefore didn’t call me back, but she didn’t get what I told her when we were together. How such arrogance could be ever called empathy? So I am not empath, as empathy will not find always new excuses for personal wrong judgments. And this has happened to me. Mea culpa.
-It turns that some people who I judged not to be empathic, in fact are, because they do not flirt with this emotion and word easily, but before giving their emotions they ask and check few times, but once they do it, you can count on them for the life.
Yes, Sabina, it is definitely for me the truth. Protective feelings are sympathy.
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Re: Empathy, Sympathy & Emotional Intelligence

Postby GenerousGeorge » Tue Apr 13, 2010 4:30 am

Sabina, I'm not so sure misjudging a person is a good measure of having (or not having empathy) for them. Empathy may help with judging, but at the end of the day, judging is a perceived value decision, while empathy is perhaps a more "shared" emotional reaction to similar experiences happening. Put another way, I can have empathy for someone without necessarily agreeing with them.

For me empathy means the ability to perceive or experience another persons reactions and feelings in certain (or similar) situations that I have had previously. The fact that we have had those same feelings in similar circumstances allows us to feel or even experience the same emotions they are feeling...... (as if it were happening to us) ..... but not necessarily to judge that person, their feelings or their actions.

As far as sympathy is concerned, I think empathy refers to the complete range of emotions (not just sympathy) and associated experiences that 2 people might share or can "imagine" sharing in similar circumstances. For example, one can feel sorry with someones circumstance without really having empathy for the experience.

Anyway, I need to think about it some more, but that is my first thoughts on the subject and contribution to the "debate". <3
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Re: Empathy, Sympathy & Emotional Intelligence

Postby dermot » Thu Apr 15, 2010 7:36 pm

Sabina, the differences between sympathy and empathy are surely easily understood, and probably not mutually exclusive either?

You ask where in judging someone wrongly...was your empathy. In judging someone wrongly surely empathy was maybe not engaged for whatever reasons, but in saying that it doesnte indicate either a lack of, or absence of empathy.

Being sympathetic towards someone may or may not bring out a feeling of empathy. Feelings such as empathy dont run along train tracks, sympathy can transform into empathy and vice versa in a moment

Engaging compassion and being open to change is necessary when one is dealing with others on any level, only then can we be emotionally intelligent. Sympathy and empathy are paths within that process.

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