Empathy vs Compassion
It is for sure that empathy and compassion are two words that are believed to give the same meaning, but between which some differences can be observed. First let us define the two words. Compassion refers to sympathetic feeling towards another without attempting to know their feelings or even understanding the intensity of their sufferings. On the other hand, Empathy refers to trying to imagine another’s problem coupled with strong feeling for that person, understand his problem and share the feeling. The main difference between compassion and empathy is in how we approach another. In compassion, we look at the person from our point of view, but in empathy we try to look from the other person’s point of view. Through this article, let us comprehend this difference in detail.
What is Compassion?
Compassion is a type of feeling where you tend to feel for the person concerned. You strongly feel sorry for the state of a person without attempting to know what is there in his or her mind. Without even understanding the intensity of his or her problem or predicament you simply feel sorry for a person.
Compassion does not involve sharing of feeling with someone. You do not step into the shoes of the sufferer when you show compassion to him or her. Without understanding his or her feeling, you would simply feel sorry for him or her. This, of course, is the only and the main difference between empathy and compassion. This makes it easy for one to have compassion towards another than empathy. Now let us move on to the next word, empathy.
What is Empathy?
Empathy can be considered as a higher level of emotive behavior. It involves some imagination of the person’s predicament or problem coupled with strong feeling for him or her. The imagination of similar situations is the hallmark of empathy. Such an imagination lays the foundation for gaining empathy for someone.
You tend to share the feeling with someone in the case of empathy. Thus, it is very important to know that in the case of empathy, you would step into the shoes of the sufferer as far as experiencing the impact of the suffering is concerned. You become one with him after understanding his or her feelings. Empathy is a complex kind of feeling. It needs basic understanding of the emotional standards of human beings.
What is the Difference Between Empathy and Compassion ?
Definitions of Empathy and Compassion :
Empathy: Empathy refers to trying to imagine another’s problem coupled with strong feeling for that person, understand his problem and share the feeling.
Compassion: Compassion refers to sympathetic feeling towards another without attempting to know their feelings or even understanding the intensity of their sufferings
Characteristics of Empathy and Compassion:
Point of view:
Empathy: We approach from the point of view of the sufferer. (Getting into the other person’s shoes)
Compassion: We approach from our point of view.
Empathy: The individual needs an in-depth understanding to empathize.
Compassion: The individual only needs a basic understanding to be compassionate.
Empathy: The individual attempt to share the feeling.
Compassion: The individual does not attempt to share the feeling.
2. “Hicolor apps scalable empathy” by GNOME icon artists – HTTP / FTP. [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons