Lacking empathy in a relationship

Lack of Empathy: What it Means and How to Deal

Empathy is a fundamental part of building meaningful social connections. For some people, though, developing it may be a challenge.

Understanding another person’s feelings and experiences, even if opposite to ours, may allow us to respond in a supportive way and regulate our own emotions.

What happens when you don’t feel it? Is it possible to lack empathy altogether? And if so, is this a sign of a mental health condition? There are many possible answers to these questions, even though this is still an evolving area of research.

In general, empathy is the ability to understand or sense another person’s perspective, feelings, needs, or intentions, even when you don’t share the same circumstances. It can sometimes involve acting on that understanding, including offering help.

But empathy doesn’t always lead to action. It may depend on the type of empathy you’ve developed.

According to psychologists and researchers Paul Ekman and Daniel Goleman, there are three main types of empathy:


Cognitive empathy

This type of empathy is an intellectual understanding of someone else’s feelings. It’s the ability to consider other perspectives without sensing or experiencing them yourself.

For example, if a colleague loses their job, you may recognize what emotions they could be feeling. You could also understand how their emotions might affect their behavior. This doesn’t mean you experience distress yourself.

2. Affective or ‘emotional’ empathy

People who have emotional empathy tend to feel another person’s emotions. Although not always the case, this may also include physical sensations consistent with such emotion.

For example, if you see someone under great distress after losing a loved one, you feel sad yourself and could experience chest or stomach pain while sensing that emotion in the other person.

3. Compassionate empathy or ‘empathetic concern’

Compassionate empathy is a combination of cognitive and emotional empathy. You recognize and understand another person’s emotions and also feel them.

Taking on another person’s challenges and hurt may end up taking a toll on you. This is why some people may not develop this type of empathy.

However, relating to other people’s suffering may also lead you to consider helping. And research suggests that when you do help, your body produces more dopamine — a “feel-good” hormone. This then leads and motivates you to continue acting on your cognitive and emotional empathy.

Examples of compassionate empathy include stopping your car to help if you see someone fall or donating to a cause after a natural disaster.

Can you have one type of empathy only?

Not everyone develops compassionate empathy, and there are also different levels of emotional or cognitive empathy.

For example, you could feel sad that your partner is experiencing a challenge (emotional empathy). It hurts you to see them hurt.

Yet, you may not really understand why they feel this way. Or you may even feel that their reason for feeling sad isn’t serious enough to warrant these emotions. You may have difficulty seeing the situation from their perspective (cognitive empathy).

Because of this, you may not experience compassionate empathy.

Empathy exists on a spectrum, and in most cases, it isn’t entirely absent — it’s just diminished.

Because empathy is an ability, most people can develop it. Having low empathy doesn’t mean you’ll feel this way forever.

In some cases, due to illness or trauma, some people may have extremely low empathy and a diminished capacity to develop it. However, they still have the capacity.

Because everyone is different, and empathy is a spectrum, low empathy or lack of empathy can be challenging to spot.

In general, some of the signs someone may lack empathy include:

1. Being critical and judgmental

People who have low empathy may excessively criticize other people for experiencing or expressing emotions in certain scenarios.

Someone with a lack of empathy may also blame the person for what they’re experiencing. For example, they may say things like, “If you didn’t do those things, you wouldn’t be in trouble now.”

Someone who isn’t empathetic may also label people or behaviors without considering the context. For example, they may criticize a colleague for being late, without realizing or appreciating that they have a sick child at home.

2. Thinking it wouldn’t happen to them

Someone with low empathy may have trouble connecting to other people’s circumstances.

They may believe that a certain event would never happen to them, or that they could handle the situation “much better.” Because they feel this is the case, they won’t be able to understand or feel the other person’s distress.

3. Calling other people ‘too sensitive’

Because they have difficulty understanding another person’s perspective and sensing their emotions, a person that lacks empathy will sometimes think emotional reactions are not valid, or they may act in dismissive ways.

They may think people’s feelings are optional or come from what they may perceive as an emotional deficit. “You’re feeling that way because you want to or because you’re too sensitive, not because it’s really that bad.”

4. Responding in inappropriate ways

Someone with low empathy may joke about someone’s emotions or circumstances. They may also have a difficult time actively listen to you. They could also act chirpy or indifferent after you just expressed feeling sad or stressed.

Someone who is empathetic might try to cheer you up if they see you down. But someone who isn’t may ignore how you feel altogether.

5. Having trouble understanding how their behavior affects others

Often, low empathy may result in a person not realizing that their actions can affect others. Other times, they may understand that their behavior impacts other people, but they may not feel remorseful about it.

This means that someone may act in selfish or vindictive ways without realizing or caring if that hurts you.

6. Difficulty maintaining relationships

Low empathy may lead to constant friction in relationships or a lack of meaningful bonds.

When someone has a difficult time understanding other people’s feelings or acting in helpful ways, they may end up with few or no meaningful connections. Sometimes, they’re not even aware this is happening.

Everyone may experience low empathy at times. For example, it may be natural to have difficulty feeling and expressing empathy toward someone who has harmed us.

There is some debate on whether a person is born with low empathy or if upbringing, social factors, or life experiences may hinder their ability to develop it, or even limit it. Genetics may also play a role.

Other possible factors associated with low empathy include:

Personality and developmental disorders

  • narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)
  • Machiavellianism
  • sociopathy or antisocial personality disorder
  • borderline personality disorder (BPD)
  • alexithymia
  • autism

Among these conditions, levels of empathy can vary. Among individuals, levels can vary even more so.

For example, research suggests that some people with BPD may have difficulty developing emotional empathy but may display cognitive empathy.

Machiavellianism (a personality trait) and NPD (a mental health condition) have long been associated with a lack of empathy. However, one study suggests that people with these traits and disorders actually have a certain degree of empathy — they just may lack the motivation to show or act on it.

Additionally, autistic people can sometimes have difficulties with cognitive empathy. However, they may develop emotional empathy but face challenges with expressing it. A 2018 study suggests that possible low empathy among autistic people is not related directly to the causes of autism but rather to the co-occurrence of alexithymia.


Because empathy is partly a learned behavior, you may not be as empathetic if you didn’t experience much empathy while growing up.

Also, if you were alone much of the time, you may not have had the opportunity to practice empathy. This, too, can lead to a reduction of empathetic expression.

Low emotional intelligence, burnout, and stress

Emotional intelligence may be linked to empathy. If you haven’t developed this type of intelligence, you may also have low empathy.

Being under prolonged stress may also lead someone to be less tolerant of other people’s behavior and have lower cognitive empathy.

In some cases, emotional avoidance may also be a reason why someone may not develop or practice empathy. If someone is emotionally burned out, they may avoid all additional sources of distress, including relating to someone else’s difficulties.

In general, research also shows that some people may not develop compassionate empathy because of its perceived costs, like mental effort, time, and emotional weight.

Empathy can be developed. Here are a few tips for working on it:

Building cognitive empathy

Consider asking questions whenever you feel you don’t understand what the other person feels:

  • “How do you feel about this?”
  • “What were you hoping for?”
  • “Is there anything else going on in your life you may want to talk about?”

You could also work on being more observant of body language. You may be able to tap into someone else’s emotions if you notice a change in their expressions. This may also include focusing on nonverbal cues like tone of voice and change in habits.

Learning more about what’s important to those around you may also help you notice when their mood changes, even if you don’t feel the same way they do.

For example, if you know this person cares a lot about their pet — even if you don’t like animals — you may understand why the loss of their companion is devastating to them.

Increasing emotional empathy

Working on recognizing your own emotions may help you connect with other people. Not everyone will recognize how they feel at all times or why they act in a certain way.

For example, you may act irritable and impatient today without realizing it’s because you’ve been sad about an argument you had yesterday.

Learning to connect your emotions with your actions may help you connect with other people’s emotions, too.

You could also practice listening more attentively and resisting the desire to tell the other person about your personal experience when they’re talking about themselves.

When you do, consider focusing on how they feel and why they may be feeling this way.

Enhancing compassionate empathy

As you develop both cognitive and emotional empathy, you’ll be more likely to have compassionate empathy and step into action when you see someone having a difficult time.

There are many types and levels of empathy. How much empathy you have depends on many factors, and may vary according to the situation.

Empathy may help you exhibit more helping behaviors and could also improve your relationships.

If you feel you could be more empathetic, you’ve taken the first step. Empathy is something you can develop, and it starts with awareness.

If you feel you’re having a challenging time developing empathy, you may want to seek the support of a mental health professional who can work with you in practicing a few techniques that may help.

10 Ways on How to Cope With Lacking Empathy in Relationships

In This Article

A relationship lacking empathy will hit the rocks sooner or later. The fun in every relationship is for the two partners to understand and care for each other no matter the circumstances. When one person refuses to understand another person’s point of view, it inhibits the healthy growth of the relationship.

Dealing with someone who lacks empathy can be daunting, especially when you love them. However, the inability to empathize often stems from background and experience. In other words, when someone lacks empathy, it might not be entirely their fault.

People who lack empathy lack self-confidence and self-love. When you notice that your relationship is lacking empathy, it might be the right time to change things. If you wish to know how to deal with a lack of empathy in your relationship, keep reading this article.

Related Reading: How to Build Empathy in Relationships

What is empathy?

Empathy is the understanding of how others feel and being compassionate toward them. In other words, empathy is the awareness and acknowledgment of others’ feelings and emotions.

Empathy means the ability to sense another person’s feelings and emotions even when they don’t talk. We can also say empathy is the ability to be sensitive towards feelings at the moment. Inability to show empathy means there is a lack of caring.

You know others are going through some terrible experiences, but you don’t care. It is not just enough to recognize people’s emotional reactions. You must respond appropriately to them so that they can feel better.

The common saying “Putting yourself in others’ shoes” relates well with empathy. It means you should imagine yourself in another person’s situation or circumstances.

Even if you have no idea what others are going through, imagine them to be you and awaken you to their realizations. It goes as simple as asking yourself, “If I were to be this man, how would I feel?”

Empathy is all about being conscious of others’ emotions. To fully understand the concept of empathy, you must go through three stages of emotions. First, you must recognize, perceive, and respond correctly. It may look like your response will not help the situation, but you will be shocked at the effect. Your little action can be what the other person needs after all.

Why is a lack of empathy a problem for a marriage?

Lacking empathy in a marriage is a significant issue in relationships. People go through different unpleasant experiences every day. It is a great pleasure to have someone to tell you about these problems, too – someone to hold you tight and relate with you.

The inability to empathize with one’s partner when they describe their situation shows a lack of compassion. A relationship may last or not, but marriage is a long-term commitment. It is the relationship you can’t rush out of all of a sudden when a problem arises.

You don’t necessarily have to experience what your partner is going through. Nonetheless, you and your partner should be each other’s haven or safe place when the tides are unstable. Thus, lacking empathy in a marriage is a big problem.

When a spouse lacks empathy in a marriage, it means they don’t regard their partner. Also, it means you both don’t have a mutual and healthy relationship. Instead, what you have is a mere transaction.

People who lack empathy or non-empathetic partners focus too much on themselves that they don’t see others. Showing no empathy in your relationship puts a barrier between you and your partner. Dealing with someone who lacks empathy is challenging but not impossible.

Reasons spouse might lack empathy

There are a number of reasons your partner shows a lack of caring or lack of compassion. Reasons for lack of empathy in a relationship range from emotional problems to physical problems. Check the following for possible reasons a spouse lacks empathy:

One main reason your partner is lacking empathy is that they don’t understand the message you are trying to pass to them. For instance, telling your partner that you are lonely when you practically live together is unclear. Apparently, they just don’t pay attention to you.

In addition, your partner may be going through some personal problems, including health, career, or financial trouble. Partners hide their health status to protect them or prevent them from overreacting. In this scenario, they might be overwhelmed and appear to show a lack of compassion.

10 Ways to deal with people who lack empathy

People who lack empathy don’t understand the effect of their inability to empathize with their partners. If you want to know how to deal with a lack of empathy in a relationship, check the following:

1. Express your messages clearly

Instead of expecting your partner to guess how you feel because you are suddenly moody, calmly communicate with them. While you are busy with your emotions, your partner may be going through another issue. Instead of whining, tell them your experience without mincing words.

Related Reading: 15 Ways on How to Communicate in a Relationship With a Man

2. Empathize with yourself

You can deal with your partner’s inability to feel empathy by showing yourself some self-care. Be vulnerable about how you feel because sometimes we expect a lot from our partners when we can’t reciprocate.

Show yourself self-compassion by being honest about your pain and suffering. See yourself as your spouse or closest friend. If it were others, you would help them, right? So, why not help yourself instead of expecting your spouse to do that.

3. Understand that your partner is different

Sometimes, we feel our relationship is lacking empathy because our partners don’t react the way we expect. To deal with a non-empathetic person, you must know that people differ in character and attitude. Your partner’s inability to show empathy does not mean they are wicked.

Don’t expect your partner to validate your feelings or meet them with the same level of emotions. After all, only you know where it hurts. Instead, acknowledge their little effort in helping you feel better.

Related Reading: How to Improve Understanding in a Relationship

4. Help your partner

What is the essence of a relationship if the partners can’t help each other? When there is a lack of empathy in a relationship, you can reduce the effect by teaching them how to empathize with others.

For instance, when you pass by a person and greet them, you can ask your partner, “How do you think she feels?” “Why do you think he acts in that manner?”

Gradually, your partner will start giving thought to people’s expressions and feelings. When it comes to your turn, it should be easy.

5. Show empathy around your partner

Your partner may be lacking empathy because they don’t know how to empathize with others. So, you can make them see the processes of compassion in real-time. Show them that being nice is the first step to competing lack of compassion or lack of caring.

After that, help them with specific questions to ask themselves when they see others’ expressions. For example, as short as “Are you all right?” can go a long way in setting the foundation for empathy.

6. Strengthen your relationship with others

Lack of empathy in a relationship can make you depressed and think no one can help you. However, you can cope with your partner’s inability to empathize by developing your relationship with others.

Talk to a few people with whom you feel comfortable sharing your inner feelings. Ensure they have shown empathy in the past, and don’t forget to reciprocate when they need you the most.

Related Reading: How to Strengthen Your Relationship Connection- Expert Advice

7. Pay attention to your partner

Expecting your partner to show you emotional support without paying attention to them may affect your relationship. If you want to show your partner compassion, you must give your partner undivided attention every time.

That may help you sense a change in their emotions and feelings. Putting everything on hold to attend to your partner reveals that you care about them. That can push them to reciprocate in the future.

8. Listen to them

The basis of lack of empathy in relationships is the inability to listen to each other. Remember that listening is quite different from hearing. Your partner may face you and hear every word but not pay attention to them. Instead of constantly blaming them, try to listen to your partner when they talk.

It is best not to criticize or judge them at any point. Rather, listen because you want to understand their feelings and help them feel better. Once the conversation is over, tell them you would like them to do the same for you in the future.

9. Invite them to the issue intentionally

Humans are different as they come from different backgrounds and have different experiences. Some people need permission before offering you a shoulder. It does not mean they are insensitive outrightly; they don’t know how.

When someone lacks empathy, you should consider inviting them to your feelings by asking them how they feel about a particular situation. This question alone can open the floor for a long and exciting conversation. It is a way to make your partner feel like their opinion matters.

10. Visit a therapist

If you have effortlessly tried to help your partner empathize with you, it might be the time to see a professional.

Seek a supporting and caring therapist who can help you through your situation emotionally. Ensure the therapist is an experienced one who has helped people like yourself in the past.


Lack of empathy in relationships is one of the most common problems between partners. Showing empathy is to understand another person’s feelings and show compassion. When you ignore your partner’s emotions, you imbibe in lack of compassion and lack of caring.

 If you want to know how to deal with a lack of empathy, you need to care for yourself. Also, help your partner build their empathy skills by showing them how to understand other people’s feelings.

To know the signs of lacking empathy, watch this video.

10 facts about empathy: Society Articles ➕1, 06/22/2020

The scientific concept of “empathy” is more than a hundred years old, but the term has come into fashion among personal growth consultants and business coaches in recent years. Developing empathy as an integral part of "emotional intelligence" is advised to bosses of any rank, politicians and marketers, as it will help them achieve their goals. has collected ten scientific facts about empathy, confirmed by scientific research.


Fact 1: Lack of empathy can be a sign of mental illness. Empathy is an emotional response, empathy for a communication partner. The term is a tracing-paper from the German Einfühlung, introduced in 1885 by Theodor Lipps when describing the impact of art on people.

British psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen proposed a scale of empathy from zero (complete absence) to six (altruism). A complete lack of empathy is associated with various diseases (narcissistic personality disorder, psychopathy, and so on), and an excess of empathy, when a person is constantly focused on the feelings of other people, is commonly called altruism.

It is believed that a large number of people with a high level of empathy makes both people and entire societies virtuous. However, altruists themselves often face difficulties in building personal boundaries.

Fact 2. Empathy is innate and is associated with the work of mirror neurons . This is evidenced by the behavior of a baby who screams when he hears a baby crying from a nearby crib or copying the mother's emotions. This copying is an important part of growing up as a person “learns” emotions. Mirror neurons are involved in the neurophysiological mechanisms of empathy. During the experiments, it was found that if a person is told about something vile, they excite the very neurons that are responsible for disgust, and if they talk about someone else's pain, the brain reacts as if the pain is experienced by its owner.

Fact 3. Empathy is not unique to humans. The Dutch primatologist Frans de Waal describes examples of helping behavior in animals in the book In Search of Humanity in Primates. Just like in humans, empathic (helping) behavior is based on experience. In a number of experiments, it has been proven that rats try to help their relatives in danger through which they themselves have passed. In the course of experiments at the Japanese Kansei Gakuin University, one rat sank into a tank of water, while the other had the opportunity to open the door of this tank in order to save her. Behind another door, there was a chocolate treat nearby. The second rat first saved the first, and then shared food with her. Those rats that were already drowning in a tank of water reacted faster than the others.

Fact 4. Empathy is only partially transmitted genetically. This was shown by a study at the University of Cambridge, in which 46,000 people took part: each test subject completed a survey and received an “empathy coefficient” as a result, and also passed saliva samples for a DNA test. In this experiment, scientists looked for differences in genes that could explain why some people are more empathic than others. Experience has shown that only in 10% of cases the ability to empathize in humans is genetically determined. At the same time, scientists have not yet discovered a specific “empathy gene”. AT 90% empathy is a cultural product.

Fact 5: Women are more empathetic than men. Experiments by a group of scientists from the US, Italy and the UK show that women are more empathetic than men. However, this is due not so much to biological characteristics, but to cultural norms: gender attitudes, activities related to caring for loved ones.

Empathy also has a number of "politically incorrect" properties: we are more willing to show it in relation to outwardly attractive people, as well as to people of our own race and nationality. At the same time, in multicultural societies with rich experience in combating xenophobia, this gap is not so clear.

Fact 6. The level of empathy is not constant. Changes depend on many circumstances: experience, state of mind, external factors, and so on. The famous experiment of Professor Stanley Milgram of Yale University proved that people are highly dependent on authorities for manifestations of empathy. Participants were asked, as part of the experiment, to hurt (shock) another person (in reality, an actor). Despite their doubts, most of the participants agreed to gradually increase the current and cause suffering, as a “scientist” in a white coat stood nearby and encouraged them with the phrases: “Please continue”, “It is absolutely necessary that you continue”, and so on. Of the 40 participants, 26 reached the end of the scale (when the suffering inflicted was the highest).

Subsequently, scientists repeated the Milgram experiment several times, and the results turned out to be close to the original ones. In particular, Jerry M. Burger repeated the experiment in 2009, changing several protocols in accordance with ethical requirements. During the experiment, participants could see how others refused to continue the experience, but even in this state, many obeyed the "doctors".

Fact 7. Reduced empathy does not lead to aggressive behavior. A study of several dozen violent offenders found reduced levels of empathy in perpetrators. Aggressive participants in the experiment had a decrease in empathic response to emotional videos of others suffering. However, in people suffering from narcissistic disorders and psychopathy, empathy can also be reduced, but they are not prone to violent actions. It turned out that the decrease in empathy in aggressive men was caused by alexithymia - the inability to describe one's own state, focusing on external events to the detriment of internal experiences, a tendency to utilitarian thinking with a deficit of emotional reactions.

Fact 8. The bystander effect reduces empathy. Empathy tends to "dissipate": hence people's idea of ​​"loneliness in a crowd", of the rigidity of townspeople compared to villagers. Psychologists John Darley and Bibb Latane conducted an experiment they called the “witness effect”: experimental students were taken to different rooms, where they were offered to listen to how an actor (students did not know that he was an actor) played out a scene of an epileptic seizure. If the participant of the experiment believed that he was the only witness of the “attack”, the victim received help in 85% of cases, if the participants knew that there were two of them, in 62%, if they thought that there were five of them, in only 31% of cases. Scientists have called this effect “responsibility diffusion”.

Fact 9. Empathy helps you be more successful. In modern business, empathy has become an important element of management. A joint study of the psychology of hedge fund managers by researchers from the University of Denver and the University of California at Berkeley found that people with reduced empathy and pronounced psychopathic traits are more successful in words than in deeds. Ruthlessness and callousness in the modern world help business less. Psychopaths often cause chaos in the workplace, their actions lead to staff drain and reduced employee productivity.

Fact 10. Empathy and happiness are related. Happy people tend to be more altruistic and empathetic than unhappy people. Child behavior researchers have found that children who are often punished are less generous than those who are not punished at all or rarely punished. At the same time, helping others improves bad moods and prolongs good ones. Charles Darwin argued that we ourselves need empathy in order to live in harmony with our conscience: “If we, under the influence of selfishness, do not follow the desire to help our neighbor, then later, when we vividly imagine the disaster we are experiencing, the desire to help will arise again and its dissatisfaction will cause in us painful pangs of conscience.


Ekaterina Drankina

lack of signs of empathy and how to develop it

In our modern world, we encounter different people from different cultures, languages ​​and religions. One of the key elements in helping us live peacefully is understanding. In addition, the key to understanding is empathy, and this is a behavioral skill that every person needs. This article discusses empathy, lack of signs of empathy, actions to develop empathy. In addition, we will also look at ways to develop empathy, empathy versus empathy, and the importance of empathy.

Definition of empathy

We can define empathy as the ability to share or understand and care about how others feel. This is a behavioral skill that can be innate in a person or acquired as a result of certain actions.

Empathy versus sympathy

Sympathy usually refers to feelings or emotions. This is when one person shares the feelings of another. It is expressed when a person experiences sadness, when someone close is experiencing grief or loss.

Sympathy, , however, differs from sympathy in that it has a greater emotional distance. Generally, imagining the feelings of others helps to understand without necessarily sharing the feelings.

In addition, empathy and sympathy should not be used interchangeably in a text. However, we often encounter them in contexts where their distinction diminishes. The difference in meaning must be explained by some variation. Empathy is when you share the feelings of another, whereas empathy is when you understand the feelings of another. But, as with empathy, you don't necessarily share them.

Nouns have a common root: the Greek word pathos , which means "feelings, emotions or passion." Paphos itself refers to the display of pity or compassion in a work of art or literature.

Sympathy involves sharing

The general definition of sympathy in the dictionary is the act or ability to enter into or share the feelings or interests of another.” When we hear about empathy, we tend to think of situations involving emotional pain. For example; when a friend is grieving the loss of a loved one, you will want to visit him and keep him company for a while. This should show that you feel the loss of the person.

Empathy involves understanding

You have empathy for a person when you can imagine how they might feel based on what you know about that person, even though you don't express those feelings directly. Empathy can also manifest itself in the familiar idiom of “putting oneself in the place of another.

In addition, another major difference between empathy and empathy is how long one has been around. Therefore, compared to empathy , which first appeared in English in the 16th century, empathy is a relatively new word derived from already existing words.

Why is empathy important?

This quality is necessary for building and maintaining good relationships at work, in the family and in society as a whole. People who feel empathy enjoy more happiness and less stress. People who lack empathy are said to be selfish and evil. This may be the result of their inability to understand and accept other people's points of view. As a result, we have a lot of failed relationships.

Without empathy, people tend to go through life without thinking about how other people feel or what they might be thinking. Each of us has a different point of view. We all experience mood, pain and resentment, joy and sadness. Moreover, we are so limited when we see only our own perspective. Without wasting time evaluating the other, it is easy to make assumptions and jump to conclusions. Consequently, this often leads to bad feelings, conflicts, a deterioration in morale, and even divorce. People do not feel heard or understood. Therefore, empathy is important because it promotes mutual understanding and peaceful coexistence between us.

Empathic people are great listeners and often generous. They easily share their problems with people. In addition, they are emotional and often feel overwhelmed by tragic events.

However, a lack of empathy means that the person appears aloof, indifferent, and uninterested in the problems of others. This attitude often harms others. Also, we need to identify these signs of lack of empathy in people, as it will help us communicate better. Some of these signs of lack of empathy include;

#1. Usually they are unhappy with others.

№ 2. They cannot control their emotions.

#3. They overreact.

№ 4. They have superficial emotions.

# 5. They are not touched by emotional events.

№ 6. It is difficult for them to maintain relationships.

№ 7. They negate emotional outbursts.

What is your level of empathy?

To determine your level of empathy, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have trouble identifying the emotions of those around you?
  • It's hard to imagine how you would feel if you were in someone else's place?
  • Does it bother you when you see other people suffering?
  • Do you stop listening to others when you disagree with them?
  • Do you avoid helping those who are upset, offended or at a disadvantage?

If you answered yes to most of the following questions, you probably have trouble empathizing with others. While it can be difficult, there are steps you can take to become more empathetic.

The exact causes of lack of empathy are not known, but various factors are thought to play a role. It is believed that genetics and socialization have a significant impact on empathy.

The inherited characteristics of personality and temperament are influenced by genetics. As a result, some people are born with traits that make them more sensitive to others. However, life experience also has a significant impact.

Kindness, empathy, compassion and helping behavior are influenced by parents, teachers, peers, society and culture.

Some research also shows that men and women experience and express empathy differently. Women often outperform men in terms of empathy. 1

Some illnesses, such as narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), antisocial personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder, can contribute to lack of empathy (BPD).

The lack of signs of empathy can have a variety of consequences. Among them are the following:

No. 1. Relationship problems:

People who lack empathy are more likely to have problems in relationships with others. When other people feel that their feelings and needs are not being acknowledged, this can lead to arguments. It can also make it difficult to develop connections and make it less likely that people will receive effective help.

No. 2. Bad communication:

Not understanding where others are coming from can make conversation much more difficult. Lack of empathy can also lead people to misinterpret what others are trying to communicate, which can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and broken relationships.

#3. Lack of helping behavior:

When people lack empathy for others, they are less likely to engage in prosocial behavior that could help those in need. This can have an individual impact, but it can also have a wider systemic impact when groups, governments or cultures show no empathy for those in need.

In healthcare settings, lack of empathy can have serious consequences. According to research, medical training reduces the empathy of medical professionals. 2 This can lead to inattentive care, poor health outcomes and negative patient experiences.

How to show empathy

# 1. Be intentional.

#2 Remove distractions.

#3. Acknowledge your judgments.

No. 4. Don't always try to solve problems.

No. 5. Share your feelings and experiences.

No. 6. Show gratitude for the fact that the person has opened up.

No. 7. Give encouragement and show support.

No. 8. Be open to other people's views.

No. 9. Encourage cooperation.

No. 10. Listen to your team.

No. 11. Put the health of your employees ahead of your goals.

No. 12 Always be grateful.

See also: Examples of empathy: 45+ examples with empathic statements

Ways to develop empathy

Often life experience can help teach us to be more empathetic, as they say, experience is the best teacher. Stephanie Thoma, said career coach,

“Losing a job that I relied on and identified early in my career has given me more compassion and empathy for those who are in between jobs. I have experienced the depression, anxiety and insecurity that can come with losing a job. This experience gives my work, helping people come to their senses, much more resonance and meaning.

However, we can also develop our empathy by learning from the experiences of those around us. In addition, there are various practices/activities that can help develop our empathy.

Empathy Training

Empathy, although it's a difficult skill to learn like anything else. It is well known that the learning process in children is faster than in adults. Therefore, it is important that children learn this skill while they are still young. It is critical that educators recognize that lack of empathy is a skill flaw, not a character problem.

According to Ross Green, "Children succeed when they can." Therefore, this means that a person who lacks empathy can improve and become more empathic if properly trained. However, there are several ways to teach, emphasize and demonstrate empathy skills. That is, these skills can be learned.

It is also worth noting that some students will struggle with these skills more than others. Therefore, learning this skill will be a slow but constant process.

Empathy activities for children in the USA

#1. Replenishment of the vocabulary of emotions.

Here the tutor can give some examples of words that express emotions. Together they discuss the meaning of the words, associating them with empathy. In addition, the children will then give more examples and write them down.

№ 2. Identification and development of emotions.

It should be as much fun as possible. First, the tutor calls the students one by one and asks them to demonstrate different emotions. The rest of the students will now try to identify the expressed emotions. Thus, it will help students understand and interpret facial gestures, thereby developing their empathy skills. Children should also try to identify signs of lack of empathy through play or drama.

#3. Practice active listening.

The teacher reads the text aloud to the students. Students listen carefully and summarize what they hear. In addition, students can also be asked questions in between reading exercises. This will increase their ability to listen, hence improve their empathic skills.

#4 Making a paper collage

This is especially important for shy students who can't express themselves in front of the class. Students are given cards from which they will make a paper collage. After that, they will match images showing various facial gestures with the corresponding emotion shown. They should be able to identify the signs of empathy shown on the cards.

Creating Empathic Adults

However, the way adults develop empathy may differ from the way children develop empathy. It is not easy to develop, but with constant efforts we can achieve it.

#1. Building friendships

Empathy dissolves when we see the world from the perspective of "us and them" . However, it is restored when it returns to 'you and me' . In other words, enemies eventually become friends when we try to view the intentions of their actions as friendly.

No. 2. Being curious

It allows us to know someone's intentions or feelings, thereby understanding them and their way of life. We can achieve this by following people on social media with experiences other than you.
We can also go beyond small talk like "how are you" and ask about people's daily lives.

#3. Listen carefully

By removing your phone and other distractions, you can listen and notice facial expressions and gestures. So, these facial expressions and gestures go a long way when trying to understand someone.

No. 4. Reading books

This is another great way to learn about different lifestyles and cultures. This will help us understand people more easily.

It promotes positive interaction between people. This is necessary because this is where their thoughts and beliefs will be built. The result is an improved understanding of people's perceptions and actions.

No. 6. Participation in volunteer work in less privileged communities.

It helps the person to be more empathetic. This allows us to explore the privileges we have over others. Thus, it helps us make more informed decisions and develop our emotional response.

What are the benefits of empathy in the workplace?

Empathy in the workplace can lead to improved communication, improved relationships with colleagues, increased job satisfaction and reduced conflict. It can also lead to improved customer service and increased productivity.

What are the problems of showing empathy?

Empathy problems can include difficulty putting yourself in another person's shoes, cultural differences, and personal biases. Empathy can also be difficult to express in stressful situations.

What is the relationship between empathy and compassion?

Empathy refers to the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, while compassion is the act of caring and seeking to alleviate the suffering of others. Empathy is a key component of compassion as it allows us to understand the experiences and emotions of others.

How does empathy affect mental health?

Empathy can have a positive effect on mental health by reducing stress and anxiety, promoting positive relationships, and providing a sense of purpose and fulfillment. By allowing people to connect with others on an emotional level, empathy can also help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Can empathy be taught?

Yes, empathy can be taught through a variety of methods, such as exposure to a variety of experiences, active listening, and mindfulness exercises. Empathy can also be developed by seeking to understand the point of view of others, by practicing point of view acceptance, and by engaging in reflective and introspective activities.

How does empathy affect relationships?

Empathy can have a positive effect on relationships by promoting understanding, trust and connection. When people are able to understand and share the feelings of others, they can develop deeper and more meaningful relationships. Empathy can also help reduce conflict and improve communication in relationships, making them stronger and more resilient.


In conclusion, empathy is very important in our society and its importance cannot be overestimated. Compassion may come naturally to you. This means that the response to it may be part of our biological structure. However, we should improve this skill as much as possible, as it adds more value to relationships.

Frequently Asked Questions about Empathy

What is a good example of empathy?

Suppose your pet dog is terminally ill. You do everything you can to make her happy and comfortable for as long as possible, but there comes a point when she is too tormented to enjoy her existence. You will take her to the vet and euthanize her. This decision is based on empathy.

What is a person called who has no sympathy?

Lack of empathy and guilt, as well as superficial affect, glibness, manipulation and callousness characterize psychopathy.

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