Sympathy and Empathy seems like two similar words but these are different in meaning. Both words express heart feelings.
Sympathy is an act when you feel bad for the person, you try to make them feel better when they are sad. You feel pity for them but can’t exactly understand what they are going through because you never had the same thing as they must be suffering from that time. You can have compassion for that person but can’t feel the intensity of their pain.
To sympathize someone is to become sensitive towards their bad time. You are always ready to help them or motivate them but can’t give that emotional support what they must be expecting with you.
For an example if we fall in a bad situation and someone try to console us, we say that you can’t understand what I’m going through right now, because it never happened with you and when you will face all this, only then you will understand my feelings.
On the other hand Empathy is a much deeper sense of heart feeling in which you feel others pain and joy. To the extent you are replaced with that person. You give your extreme emotional support to let them come out of that situation. You can understand them in a much better way because once you have also experienced the same situation or still passing through it.
It is almost impossible to fully emphasize with someone because everyone has different views, thinking and their ways of handling things are also different. Everybody has their own solutions to come out of particular situations.
The basic difference between Sympathy and Empathy is that when someone sympathize us, they make us feel that they are sorry for what is happening with us but we have to face this alone. And Empathy makes us feel that they are standing with us, they will be always there to help us. Empathy helps people emotionally and give them courage to bring themselves out of that situation.
It’s very easy to feel sympathize to someone. For an example we can pity all of them who have lost their loved ones, undergone significant trauma, or faced terribly the Tsunami 2004 but could we empathize with them? Many of us may feel their sorrow to an extent but still can’t empathize them.
Empathy can give a lift to many people who have encountered many huge losses in their lives, who are suffering from the pain of losing their closed ones, their houses, their jobs etc. But the thing is that being a sympathizer is only option left with us unless we ourselves have faced this. A person who is going through a terrible situation only expects to hear from others that “I also had the same situation”, “I can understand what you are going through because once I had also faced the same thing” and so on. But if you never had that bad time in your life how can you understand their pain! You will only say “I’m sorry for what has happened with you”, this is what they don’t want to hear that time.
To grow as a better individual in both the professional and personal arena, one should develop good interpersonal skills. These soft skills help us know the other person’s dilemma. When to sympathize and when to empathize, the perplexing question keeps you away to convey your feelings when we feel the other person’s situation and want to convey our feelings, to console him/her so that he/she can combat from that situation resolutely.
Next time when your colleague or friend shares his/her apprehensions with you, be wise in choosing between sympathy and empathy.