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What’s the difference between sympathy and empathy?

Empathy and sympathy are often grouped together, but they are very different, as Brené Brown outlines in this short yet powerful video.

Empathy is an skill that can bring people together and make people feel included, while sympathy creates an uneven power dynamic and can lead to more isolation and disconnection. It’s an unfortunate outcome given that sympathy is usually coming from a good place.

Brené Brown's steps to to showing empathy include:

  1. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and taking their perspective.

  2. Listening and staying out of judgement.

  3. Recognising emotion in another person that you have maybe felt before.

  4. Communicating that you can recognise that emotion.

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