What is empathy?

Empathy is the ability to understand how another is feeling and even share in that feeling.

Why is it important to have empathy?

Empathy is the key to making and keeping connections with people. It’s about linking two or more minds by recognising and respecting others’ feelings and attitudes. It’s likely to increase helping behaviours like sharing, comforting or showing concern. It can stop us from embarrassing ourselves – or others. Think how a three-legged race goes much better when you and your partner can sense and communicate how to move and which way to turn.

What does it look, sound or feel like when someone has empathy?

Someone showing empathy might be said to “put themselves in another person’s shoes”, “be in tune with them”, or “get inside their skin”. Empathy can take many forms. Sometimes we just feel it; sometimes we act on it. Here are some examples[H1] :

A toddler tries to comfort someone who is crying by offering them a favourite toy.

A pre-schooler sees a picture of her mother laughing or smiling and says “Mum is happy”.

We squish over to make room on a bench so someone doesn’t feel left out.

We feel happy when our friend wins a prize.

We understand how upset someone who is being bullied  might feel, so we don’t join in.

We don’t say loudly “Look – that lady is SO FAT” if we see a very large person on the street.

We know why our little sister is both nervous and excited about starting school.

We don’t make a loud noise when we know someone is tired or upset.

We understand why someone did something bad … or had to do it in a certain way.

A counsellor senses when a client’s ready to talk about a hard topic, and when they’re not.

We understand the feelings of a person in a song, book or film – even if we don’t like them.

Someone says “I know how you feel … I understand your frustration…” and really means it.

We smile or wave at someone … even if we don’t know them.

It’s easier –but not essential – to empathise if you’ve had a similar experience. Reading, different social contacts, or just taking time to think and talk about others helps us develop empathy. Empathetic people are often great negotiators, advisers, and listeners who show tact, compassion, kindness, consideration and good manners.

Can you think of some other examples of showing or feeling empathy?
In which jobs or situations might having empathy be particularly important
?

References

California Department of Education, 26 September 2016. “Foundation: Empathy”. Retrieved from: https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/re/itf09socemofdemp.asp 8 November 2017.

The Brain from Top to Bottom, Mc Gill University, nd. “Sharing Other People’s Pain”. Retrieved from: http://thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/d/d_03/d_03_s/d_03_s_dou/d_03_s_dou.html  8 November 2017.

Is there a difference between empathy and sympathy?

They’re pretty similar and not all dictionaries or psychologists agree on how to define them. Sympathy most commonly means showing sadness or pity for someone because we know something bad has happened to them (like feeling sorry for flood victims) and/or wanting  to help them. It’s the tiny difference between being ‘with’ them in their feelings (pathos) as opposed to ‘in’ them.. In everday speech the difference is small and often lost. What’s important is that they’re both great emotions for us to use with people.

Can you think of some jobs or situations where empathy might be particularly important?


1. Who is the main person or group of people in this news article?

2. What was the key event from the news article?

3. Where did this event take place?

4. When did this event take place?

1. Find a quote from the main person in this news article?

2. In your own words describe what happened in this news article.

3. Find out where this event took place and include some information about this place.

4. Tell us when this event happened and explain what might happen in the future.

5. Explain in your own words why this event took place.

Current Events Web
Find the Who, What, Where, When, How and Why in the article to complete this worksheet.

I Think Because
Share what you think about the article and explain why.

My Questions
Write a question map about questions that you have after reading the article.

News Review
Give the news article you have read a review

KWL
Write what you KNOW about the topic in the article, what you would LIKE to find out and then what you have LEARNT.

Newspaper Bingo
Play newspaper bingo. Find a number of different articles to complete the grid.

Questions and Answers
Write a set of questions and then their answers after reading the article.

The Big Idea
Find the big idea by highlighting the 5 W’s and 1 H. then select 25 of key words associated with the article.

Word Investigation
Vocabulary exercise where students find key words within the article.

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Anonymous
Anonymous
7 months ago

Very interesting

guest
guest
7 months ago

very very intresting

kayson
kayson
7 months ago

very cool

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 months ago

Cool

Cocobean
Cocobean
7 months ago

This artical is something i wish i could have

arlo
arlo
5 months ago

very very cool

charlotte
charlotte
3 months ago

wow emtathy is verry verry interesting

charlotte
charlotte
3 months ago

wow this is verry interisting

charlotte
charlotte
3 months ago

i dont know what to do without empathy

Hamster
Hamster
2 months ago

This is a very helpful article to help understand when my friends or family are showing empathy.

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