Category: empathy

Regular post

  • Everything happens for a reason. 
  • This is God’s plan.
  • What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
  • It could be worse. 
  • At least it’s not cancer.
  • Just think positive thoughts. 
  • God doesn’t give you more than you can handle. 
  • At least you have one healthy child.
  • You can always just adopt.

    Really, anything beginning with “just” or “at least.” 

You may very well believe that everything happens for a reason, or that god has a plan. Many people do. But these are YOUR beliefs, and unless you know that the suffering person shares them, they likely won’t serve as comfort the way they might for you. 

Your job is to HEAR, not reduce someone’s worry. 

Worst-case scenarios make people feel even more afraid than they already did. 

I’m reading my empathy book and I’ve been sharing it over the past few days. Thanks for reading the posts, your comments are great! 

In the last chapter of this book, the author talks about what NOT to say. So, I’m sharing. 

You’re not an expert. 

Unless you actually ARE an expert, whose expertise is being asked for, hearing news of someone’s crisis is not the time to offer up casual theories about their misfortune. 

Doing this leads to two hurtful implications: 
1. The event was preventable and/or deserved, because if this person had only done X or Y they would be fine
2. Your fact-finding mission is less about providing comfort than about “weeding out” the source of a problem – to make sure it doesn’t happen to you. 

If you decide to support someone going through a rough time, your authentic gift starts with what you can give, not with what someone needs. 

Doing something we naturally like to do means we’re more likely to do it. 

  • Do you want to talk about it?
  • It’s not boring, I want to hear.
  • What’s that like for you? 
  • How are you doing, now? 
  • This must be hard, but you’re doing great. 
  • I trust you to do the right thing. 
  • I’ve seen you get through hard things before. Hard as this feels now, I know you can get through this. 
  • Yes, knowing this does change how I feel about you. I see you as even more beautiful and courageous. 
  • I respect you.
  • I love you.

1. You can’t solve other people’s problems (and you don’t need to). 
2. You’ll never know how they feel. Just because you’re empathizing with someone doesn’t mean you’ll ever be able to know exactly how they feel. Divorce, for some people, is absolutely devastating. For others, it’s a relief and a reason to throw a party. 

Try asking “How are you?” No one dies from being asked “How are you?”
But if someone has just been through major trauma (egs. brain tumor or spouse just died), and you ask them “How are you?”, they may as well reply with some version of “How the fuck do you think I’m doing?” 
Which, in all honestly, is a fair response. 

You can try “How are you doing TODAY?” because it turns an overwhelming question into a totally manageable one. 

And then you can always follow up with “I’m sorry.” 

“This happened to me, too.”
Sometimes bad times can make us feel alone and ashamed. Knowing that someone we admire has gone through something similar can make us feel less alone. But just because you have experienced the same thing as someone else does NOT mean you know how they feel. People don’t need you to share their exact same feelings down to the molecular level. They just want to know you have been through something similar, and they’re not alone. 

1. We don’t have the capacity to reach out to every single person in need. 

2. But, in reality, we can usually reach out more than we think, and it gets easier with practice. 

Emotional resonance is when you feel enough to be concerned, but not enough to require getting your own support, too.