Distinction between Empathy and Sympathy

1 Empathy refers to the recognition/understanding of the state of mind of another Person – without feeling (as in sympathy) what the other Person feels

2 The attitude in empathy involves people in acceptance and understanding. It implies that people say to themselves: I see/recognise/understand how you (the other person) feel.

3 Sympathy describes the Process of feeling with anther person  The person says -  in effect: – I feel what you (the other person) feels.   I feel joy with your joy. I feel sorrow with your sorrow.

4 The word understanding in the definition of empathy refers to recognising something and appreciating it.


5 . Some Employers and/or Selectors favour the idea that to become an effective Sales Representative, the person must have empathy.

6 Certainly not everyone can expect to feel sympathy – in all situations. If Sales Representatives feel too much sympathy in some areas, they may stop pushing for a sale. At best, Managers can look for empathy in Representatives in selling situations

7 Presumably, people who believe that Representatives should have empathy, believe Representatives can do a better job if they become aware of how their Prospect feels. Representatives with empathy will prove able to adjust their presentation to the Prospect – according to the reactions of the Prospect to various ideas

8 Probably a difficulty arises because of the belief that people either have empathy or do not have it. Probably a more-realistic attitude would state that we all have varying degrees of empathy. Further, one person will have greater empathy with different types of people than another and one person will have more empathy with one person at one time than at another.

9 In addition can Employers train a Representative to have greater empathy or at least sufficient to do an effective job as a Representative.

Return to top of page

One thought on “Distinction between Empathy and Sympathy

  1. So does empathy become sympathy? Because it seems to me there is a point where empathy turns into sympathy. Like if there were a scale it would start at no understanding or feeling on to understanding (empathy) then to feeling (sympathy)?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s