Practical ways of showing empathy

Since empathy isn’t a natural-born talent, I thought it might be helpful to share some practical ways of expressing empathy.

This is just a partial list as there are countless ways to empathize depending on the person and situation. (Have a favorite? Drop a comment with your go-to empathy practice!)

> Being present (never underestimate the power of sitting with someone in their darkest moments!)

> Giving a hug

> Asking questions out of curiosity

> Acknowledging their pain and frustration with a phrase like:

  • “I’m so sorry — that really sucks.”
  • “I’m here to listen to you, cry with you, or distract you if you prefer.”
  • “I’m thinking about you.”
  • “You’re not alone.”
  • “I know I haven’t experienced this personally, but I can imagine how hard it must be.”
  • “You can be real with me — how’re you feeling today?”
  • “It’s okay not to be okay.”

> Sending a postcard/email/text to let them know they’re on your mind

> Giving a tangible gift (e.g. flowers, fruit basket, cookies, gift card to their favorite place, something silly to make them smile, etc.)

Special thanks to @mariandrew for inspiring for this post with her illustration on Instagram.

Illustration by Mari Andrew (Follow her on Instagram here.)
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