This is a beautifully animated video acting out a well-articulated section of Dr. Brené Brown’s lecture on the difference between an empathetic and a sympathetic response from the RSA. the video neatly wraps up a difficult subject to pinpoint the consequences of both responses. Empathy is the ability to place yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand relate as best as you can to how that person feels about the situation. The trait of being able to express this feeling and understanding it is the second tier of empathy. Another response to hearing another person’s problem is to express sympathy. Sympathy is the ability to express ‘culturally acceptable’ condolences to another’s plight. A lot of the time, this includes pointing out a silver lining in the situation but it’s not always a helpful thing to do.
Empathy is harder to accomplish for many reasons. We not only have to actively listen to another person’s problem without judgment but then be honest with ourselves and the other person about our feelings as a listener. That connection builds bridges that enforce trust and understanding that are healthy and positive for both people. At a later time, it may be appropriate to look for a solution. Nothing in the world makes me feel better than when trusted family or friends understand where I’m standing. It makes me feel better because it verifies where I actually stand, I frequently get lost in my life.
Source: Expanded Consciousness