There Are Actually 3 Types of Empathy. Here’s How They Differ–and How You Can Develop Them All
Understanding the three types of empathy can help you build stronger, healthier relationships.
Changing The Golden Rule from “Treat others how you want to be treated” to “Treat others how they want to be treated”. Also understand that this means don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want done to you and what others wouldn’t want done to them.
Examples: “I’ll fix it.” “I’ll talk to her.” “I’ll get you a new one.”
Many people make this mistake when trying to comfort a friend. It’s common to think everything would be fine if we could just solve the problem! Problem solving is a useful skill, but the timing must be right. What is helpful initially when another person is upset is simply expressing empathy, validating the other person’s feelings, and inviting him or her to talk about his or her feelings. Rushing to solve the other person’s problems often makes the person feel as if his or her feelings are being dismissed or invalidated.
Examples: “Well, if I were you. . . .” “I think you should. . . .” “Why don’t you just. . .?”
Again, offering advice right off the bat is not usually helpful or welcomed by a friend who is hurting. Instead, wait for advice to be sought. In the meantime, express empathy and actively listen. Just be there.
Examples: “It’s not that big a deal.” “You shouldn’t feel that way.” “Get over it.” “That’s no reason to be upset.”
This response makes it seem as though the person is wrong for feeling a certain way. Feelings aren’t right or wrong—they just are.
Examples: “That’s just such a tragedy!” “Oh, it’s just the end of the world…” “Boo hoo, what a shame.”
Sarcasm will make an upset friend feel put down and/or misunderstood.