Empathy is a quality that every individual should have or learn to develop to understand and be more at ease with people and life in general. However, there are different kinds of empathy, and all of them may not look or feel the same. When you're trying to exhibit empathy through your writing or incorporate the word into your sentences, you should be wary of these subtle, yet important differences.
The correct way to use the word "empathy" in a sentence is as a noun. It is used to demonstrate how someone has the ability to put their feelings and opinion aside and see things from the perspective of the other.
Continue reading to learn the meaning of empathy and its various types, how to use the word in sentences, how to incorporate not just the word but also the feeling behind it in your writings, etc.
"Empathy" – Definition
The term "empathy" is generally defined as the ability to discern the emotions of other people, combined with the faculty to imagine their thoughts or feelings. The word is derived from the German term "Einfuhlung", which means "feeling in".
To feel for others or exhibit empathy, it isn't required to have shared or gone through others' circumstances or experiences in your personal life. Empathy is rather trying to comprehend another person's travails by seeing their perspective.
Like feelings, empathy can be of different types. The following are the three primary types:
- Cognitive: It is the ability to comprehend how an individual feels and thinks. People with cognitive empathy tend to be good communicators as they can transmit data in a manner that reaches the other individual correctly.
- Emotional: Also called affective empathy, emotional empathy is sharing another person's feelings. Developing such kind of empathy helps with building emotional connections with people.
- Compassionate: Also referred to as empathic concern, compassionate empathy is more than just understanding and sharing other people's feelings. The emotion pushes the person to act or help the person they are feeling empathic for.
Empathy takes time and effort to manifest, and it usually begins as cognitive empathy. Over a period, it transitions to emotional empathy and then ends up as compassionate empathy.
Compassionate empathy is the ideal form of empathy. It is the kind people usually strive for. Cognitive empathy could be ideal for the workplace, surgeon's offices, or monetary negotiations. Emotional empathy can be the initial response for loved ones and with children. Compassionate empathy strikes the right and a powerful balance between the two.
Compassionate empathy doesn't cause an individual to either think excessively or feel too much for the other person. It's taking the middle route and employing emotional intelligence to manage a situation effectively with loving detachment.
Compassionate empathy doesn't result in a person getting sucked in and taking on the feeling or burden of the other person. It's balancing compassionate caring with mindfulness and can be considered as genuinely expressed compassion.
How To Properly Use "Empathy" In A Sentence
The term "empathy" cannot be used in a vacuum. If the usage of the word doesn't result in creating a connection with your audience, it's likely because you did not understand or take the feelings and thoughts of your readers into account.
To properly use the word "empathy" in a sentence, it's imperative you get its meaning right. Many confuse between "empathy" and "sympathy" and end up using the wrong term in their sentences. Also, try to use words such as "empathetic" and "empathic" in your texts if the variation helps.
Difference Between "Sympathy" And "Empathy"
Do not mistake the word for "sympathy". Sympathy is basically feeling sorry for a person's misery. Empathy is trying to feel the pain by virtually stepping into the person's shoes, albeit momentarily. It is also, as mentioned above, feeling the need to help the troubled or aggrieved person come out of their despair.
The word "sympathy" is primarily used in texts to convey pity, commiseration, or feelings of grief to another person experiencing misfortune. Unlike "sympathy", the word "empathy" should be used in texts or sentences a lot more broadly. It must denote the ability of the subject in a given sentence to imagine themselves in another person's situation, experience their emotions, etc.
Understanding this basic difference between the two terms shall help a great deal with using "empathy" in the right kind of sentences or contexts.
Is It Empathetic Or Empathic?
Both the words "empathetic" and "empathic" are derived from "empathy". Both are adjectives that mean the same thing. They are valid, dictionary-recognized words and can be used interchangeably.
"Empathic" is the older form of the two, coined in 1909. "Empathetic", on the other hand, is derived from the pairing of the words, "sympathy" and "sympathetic". The earliest documented use of the word traces back to 1932. Though "empathic" is the older of the two, scientists prefer using it in their texts more than the other. Also, purists of the language find the term "empathic" a more suitable adjective of "empathy" than "empathetic".
Example Sentences With The Word "Empathy"
Here is a list of sentences with the word "empathy":
- She is incapable of remorse or empathy.
- I felt no empathy for them.
- He was too rigid to offer the kind of empathy she looked for.
- Moreover, it fosters "empathy", which is trying to view things from another person's perspective.
- Such programs express pity and not empathy.
- I feel empathy upon seeing the anguish in my loved ones' eyes.
- The absence of empathy is a problem that should be overcome.
- Expressing empathy and showing compassion shows the amount of care and love you have for the person.
- This is the age where kids start to show both empathy and responsibility needed for taking care of another person.
- They develop teamwork skills, empathy, and the ability to analyze sibling relationship objectively.
- Elementary school-aged kids can learn empathy simply by assisting their grandparents with menial chores.
- Many believe clairsentience is empathy's highly evolved form.
- Empathy for another person's needs is a good trait to have.
- Once you enter a toddler's mind and try seeing things from their perspective, you could have much more empathy for their myriad emotions.
- But with intuition, understanding, empathy, and information, it could be an extremely rewarding experience.
Writing With "Empathy"
Using the word "empathy" in your sentences and incorporating the feeling of empathy into your writing are two completely different things.
Any form of writing that approaches things emotionally tends to tap into feelings of sadness, happiness, relief, etc. Such writing evokes empathy, making the reader feel the emotion – priming them for the ultimate objective of the piece. For example, a sales copy that taps into empathy drives the message home better than a piece lacking empathy.
According to neuroscience, writing with empathy evokes an emotional response. Empathy functions as an emotional tool that at times puts the reader's brain in the correct frame of mind to receive a sales pitch. Sales writers use this formula: find an issue, stir up negative emotions linked with it, and offer an easy, simple solution.
Marketers have been employing this process for years in their copywritten materials. By making their audience feel empathy, they drive up conversions, increase their sales numbers, or generate interest surrounding their messages.
The Challenges And Significance Of Incorporating Empathy Into Writing
People generally have multiple thoughts, emotions, and sensations of their own. Setting those aside and picking someone else's travails or trying to experience could, therefore, be quite overwhelming. These are people who find writing (and even reading) fiction a bit challenging. Most people are effective at writing about their own experiences or giving out their personal opinions.
The greatest aspect of writing about others is you are able to transcend your thoughts, world, your own life, and experience someone else's struggles. This is how humans basically connect with their fellow beings. Writers are great connecting links, as they enable their readers to experience humanity around them and become a part of it.
How To Show Empathy In Writing
Writing with empathy is not just talking about another individual's grief or pain but drawing from your personal experiences and connecting it with the other person's feelings. For instance, "She was extremely sad" doesn't cut it.
To create empathy through writing, consider the following:
- The physical sensations you personally experience when you are sad, bored, angry, or happy.
- The kind of thoughts that hit you when you're going through the emotions.
- How your opinion of the world and people change with your shifting emotions.
Incorporate the above information into your writing. In other words, sentences such as the following will brew empathy in your readers:
- When I am sad, I feel lonely, which invariably leads to fear.
- When I am bored, my thoughts wander and settle on all things but the one I should be working on.
- When I am happy, I pray the moment lasts forever, and that I am able to find relief from umpteen menial issues in my life.
By dousing your writing with your personal pain and trauma, your readers will be able to feel for your character and experience their pain better.
The objective is to recreate the actual experience, and not necessarily delve into the details. By discussing the character's feelings such as anger, greed, fear, etc. and not focusing too much on the series of events, your texts will be more relatable.
Incorporating the word "empathy" into your sentences may help convey the feeling of the subject to the reader. Using empathy in your writing, on the other hand, shall help your readers relate to the thought and story much better. However, it's important to not go too overboard when discussing emotions. At the end of the day, your texts should not come across as corny or outright cringy.
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Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He's one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don't even want to know what he calls pancakes.