Empathy Examples (3 Comprehensive Examples)

In this article, we will discuss Empathy Examples. We will do that by defining empathy and discuss 3 detailed examples along with suggestions of empathic behavior and appropriate responses.

Empathy

Empathy refers to the ability to understand another person’s feelings and emotions.  An empath is able to comprehend and communicate their concern to other people.  Showing empathy is an important social skill that helps to deepen the connection with other people and resolve conflicts.  It also helps to ease the pain of people and makes them feel less alone in their pain.  Empaths have the ability to identify connections between thoughts,  emotions, and feelings.  They can link it with people and different situations in order to understand their emotional experience thoroughly.

Examples of Empathy

Having empathy and showing it are two different things. A person may feel the emotions of another person and understand their perspective but unless they actually express it in words or show it through their behavior, empathy will not be effective. As opposed to apathy, empathy propels an individual to exhibit comforting behavior. The proper way of having and showing empathy is an important skill that one should know and learn. We shall discuss various examples of empathy and how it can be communicated in an effective manner.

Empathy example 1: A friend does not get the job

Imagine you have a friend who has been unemployed for quite some time. She has been trying to improve her CV by studying different courses and acquiring different skills. She is also facing financial troubles and really needs a job. She has applied for multiple jobs for the past few months but has not been called back. Additionally, she has given interviews, tests, and even done internships, but she still faces rejection from prospective employees. After her 20th interview, she receives another letter of rejection from the company. Upon seeing that, she tears up the letter and screams.

Now, imagine how you would like to handle this situation. Saying generic statements like ‘Everything will be fine’ will not work. Rather, it might aggravate the situation. A better way to handle it would be to be present in the situation and let her channel out her frustration either verbally or physically. If she is not willing to talk, then stay with her in silence till she is. When she decides to talk, listen to her patiently without any interruption.  

After that, you may follow up with an empathic response that acknowledges her experience. You can say statements like ‘It seems you have tried everything you could’ or ‘I can see how hard you have worked over the past few months’ or ‘I can’t imagine what you must be going through’. Etc. Similarly, you can try picking out her emotions e.g ‘This whole process must have been so frustrating for you’ or ‘I can see that you are disappointed’ or ‘You must be feeling so exhausted due to all of this’.

Empathy Example 2: A teacher scolds a student

Imagine you are in class with 30 other students. You are sitting beside a class fellow you know is going through a difficult time at home. The teacher enters and gives back the graded assignments. Your class fellow is quite bright and hardworking in general, but she receives an F. While handing out her paper, the teacher announces her grade in front of the whole class and expresses her disappointment in her. You can hear other students snicker in the background and notice your class fellow blushing and staring at the ground. For the rest of the class, she is completely quiet and does not make eye contact with anyone.

Imagine how you would like to handle this situation in an empathic manner. An important thing would be to give her some space to process the entire situation instead of talking about it right then. Once she seems to have calmed down, ask her if she is comfortable talking to you about the incident. Taking permission is necessary since you don’t know her too well and are trying to enter her personal space.

If she says yes, find a quiet space outside of the classroom that is free from distractions and take her there. Let her talk about whatever happened in the class. Acknowledge her experience and express your regret by saying ‘I am sorry something like that happened to you’ or ‘I wish I could prevent that from happening’ or ‘It makes me really sad to see that happen’. You may pick out her emotions ‘I can see that the entire situation must have made you feel embarrassed’. Or ‘It sounds like you are under a lot of stress from home as well as school’. Be supportive and point out her strengths ‘I am amazed that you still managed to come all the way to school and gave that test, despite what you are going through’. Or ‘You are very strong and talented. I admire your strength’.

Empathy example 3: Loss of a loved one

Imagine your coworker lost his mother in a car accident, a week ago. He has been absent from the office for the past seven days. He finally comes back and starts to handle unfinished tasks immediately. He does not mention anything about the loss of his mother or the funeral and quietly keeps on working. Even when others come to him to express their condolences, he keeps quiet and just nods. You notice that he has a dazed expression while he is working and seems confused. You find him staring at the wall and his eyes start tearing up a little. He notices you looking at him and quickly wipes away his tears. He also looks around to see whether anyone else has seen him crying. After a while, you notice that he is not able to control his tears despite trying hard to.

Now imagine how you would like to handle the situation. A few ways you can show empathy is behaviorally especially since you have already noticed that this person does not want to create a scene. You can do that by quietly and discreetly passing him a box of tissues and not say anything. Another thing that can be done is getting him a glass of water.

After a while, if he calms down, you can ask his permission and inquire if he would like to talk about it. If he disagrees, you can say that you understand and just respect his space and privacy. However, if he agrees you can listen to him with complete attention and zero distractions.

An empathic response would be to thank him and express your gratitude. This can be done by saying ‘thank you for trusting me enough to share this’ or ‘I really appreciate that you talked about this with me. I can imagine it must have been quite difficult’. Similarly, you can share your feelings about his experience like ‘I can’t imagine what you must be going through’ or ‘I wish I could make things better’.

Since, in such a situation one has the option of being supportive behaviorally, you can ask him ‘How can I help you?’ ‘What do you need right now?’ ‘Is there anything I can help you with at work or at home to make things easier?

You can even show your emotional availability by saying ‘I‘m happy to listen to you anytime‘. Another empathic response can be by sharing your interest by asking ‘How have you been handling situations so far?’ Or ask for clarification in order to show you are concerned and interested in what he has to say. You can say something like ‘What I’m hearing is that you are still in a state of shock. Is that correct?’. You can even rephrase or paraphrase by saying that ‘So, you mean to say that losing your mother quite suddenly is making you feel alone and small.’

FAQs: Empathy Examples

How do you show empathy?

Empathy can be shown by acknowledging someone’s pain, showing how you feel, practicing active listening, expressing your gratitude, showing your interest, and being encouraging and supportive of the other person.

What are the 3 types of empathy?

Three types of empathy include cognitive, emotional, and compassionate empathy. One can express more than one type of empathy.

What are good empathy statements?

Good empathy statements include ‘I am sorry you had to deal with this’, ‘If I understand correctly, you are saying that….’, ‘Thank you for telling me this’. ‘If I were in your situation, I would feel the same’. There are many other statements apart from these as well that can be used to express empathy effectively.

What is empathic responding?

Empathic responding is when an empathic person states the other person’s feelings as well as the reason behind the feeling. For example, ‘I see that you are angry because you did not get a raise in your salary that you were expecting’. Or ‘You seem frustrated because you applied to 15 jobs but faced rejection at each one’ or ‘It seems that you feel embarrassed as the teacher scolded you in front of the entire class’.etc.

Can empathy be taught?

Yes, empathy can be taught effectively to other people. However, teaching someone to be empathetic does not happen overnight. It  is a long and gradual process.  This is because helping a person to understand other people’s emotions can take a lot of investment with respect to time and emotions.  Results can be promising if one stays consistent.

Can empathy be learned in adulthood?

Yes. Empathy can be learned in adulthood. Although children make ideal candidates for learning empathy, yet it is possible to learn empathy after we grow up. Research has shown that formal training can improve empathy levels. We can use various methods to do so. This can include reading fiction & watching movies from the character’s perspective, learning body language, learning connections & patterns, and finally learning empathy through role-playing are a few ways adults can learn empathy.

Conclusion

In this article, we discussed Empathy Examples. We would like to say that there are multiple ways of handling the above-suggested situations in an empathic manner. There is no particular script or a fixed way of responding to someone. It depends on the situation, context, and person. The empathic responses and behaviors suggested are only a few tips or suggestions one can employ to express empathy.

 I hope you found this article interesting. If you have any queries or comments, please state them in the comment section 😊

Citations

https://blog.usejournal.com/31-empathetic-statements-for-when-you-dont-know-what-to-say-edd50822c96a

https://examples.yourdictionary.com/genuine-examples-of-showing-empathy.html

https://examples.yourdictionary.com/powerful-examples-of-empathy-statements.html

Divya is currently a Clinical Psychology Trainee in a Master of Philosophy program and holds a Master’s in clinical psychology. She has a special interest in Personality studies and disorders, having researched the subject before, and Neuropsychology; with an additional interest being Mood disorders. She likes to write about Psychiatric issues, having worked in multiple specialty setups during her time as a clinical psychology student, and in her free time she likes to cook and read.