What is Empathy by Amelia Barnes, Life and Relationship Coach

What is Empathy?

Empathy requires seeing the world from another’s point of view, not just the issue but all those feelings that go with it. Having empathy is necessary not just for intimate relationships but also on the job and in society. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Our point of view is how we see the world. We have strong opinions, strong feelings. As a whole, we are fearful of those different from us, different colors of skin, different sexuality, different religions, different politics and different viewpoints. We feel that trying to understand the other means we have to agree with them.

What is Empathy?

Empathy is not about agreeing with the other but understanding the world from another’s point of view so well that he or she feels heard, valued and respected.  Empathy is listening to understand which is also a basic tool of conflict resolution.

Daniel Goleman redefined who to get ahead by declaring that emotional intelligence can matter more than IQ in his book Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ.  In Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships, Goleman focuses and interpersonal relationships and discusses why empathy is a vital component of all relationships.  He believes that “Humans have a built-in bias toward empathy, cooperation and altruism, provided we develop the social intelligence to nurure these capabilities in ourselves and others.” 

In an attempt to understand and explain empathy,  I’m sharing a dozen of my favorite quotes on empathy.  First though I’d like to share a quote on what empathy is not.  Remember the Harry Potter series? Voldemort is a villain devoid of empathy.

He’s really sort of the devil. He’s completely emotionally detached. He has no empathy. You find that in psychopaths. It’s about power with Voldemort. It’s an aphrodisiac for him. Power makes him feel alive.  ~Ralph Fiennes

What is Empathy? – Quotes

Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection – or compassionate action.
―Daniel Goleman, Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships 

Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.        ~Daniel H. Pink

Empathy is the starting point for creating a community and taking action. It’s the impetus for creating change.                           ~Max Carver

Empathy is really the opposite of spiritual meanness. It’s the capacity to understand that every war is both won and lost. And that someone else’s pain is as meaningful as your own.                 ~Barbara Kingsolver

When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.                                     ~Stephen Covey

Change begins with understanding and understanding begins by identifying oneself with another person: in a word, empathy. The arts enable us to put ourselves in the minds, eyes, ears and hearts of other human beings.                           ~Richard Eyre

Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.         ~Mohsin Hamid

There is zero correlation between IQ and emotional empathy… They’re controlled by different parts of the brain.                    ~Daniel Goleman

We need somebody who’s got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom, the empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old – and that’s the criterion by which I’ll be selecting my judges.       ~Barack Obama

This is a wonderful planet, and it is being completely destroyed by people who have too much money and power and no empathy.    ~Alice Walker

In a high-IQ job pool, soft skills like discipline, drive and empathy mark those who emerge as outstanding.                    ~Daniel Goleman