What Is Empathy?

According to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, empathy is:

“The feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions; the ability to share someone else’s feelings.”


For example, your friend trips and falls and hurts her knee. You might say, “Ouch! I’m so sorry. Are you alright? I fell last week and it really hurt. Can I get you some ice?”

Not only were you able to understand the pain your friend likely felt, but you offered help, knowing what helped you. This is empathy. You probably show empathy all the time and don’t even know it!

An example that does NOT show empathy would be the following:

Te’andre is up at bat during 8th grade gym class. He is not much of an athlete and has a very pained look on his face. Randy watches him strike out and suddenly yells, “Te’andre, you’re such a loser! You could never play any sport, you total spastic joke of a person!” 

Randy has neither empathy nor compassion for what Te’andre was feeling up at bat and striking out.

What’s compassion? It’s like a kissing cousin to empathy and also worth knowing about. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, compassion is:

“a feeling of wanting to help someone who is sick, hungry, in trouble, etc.”

 Back to the ballgame with Randy and Te’andre:

Suddenly, Alissa walks up to Te’andre and says, “Don’t listen to that jerk. You did fine. Let’s go inside and work on that science project.”

Alissa showed compassion for what she imagined Te’andre was feeling after Randy ridiculed him for striking out.

Next, read why it’s important to have empathy….


Post Question: What would you have felt watching a guy like Randy yet at a guy like Te’andre? Why?

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7 responses to “What Is Empathy?”

  1. WLKHS0110 October 28, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    I would have felt sick watching a guy like Randy yell at a guy like Te’andre because Te was trying his best and isn’t as skilled as others but Randy thought it would be okay to completely humiliate Te’andre for that

  2. WLKHSCB October 28, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    Randy, would get my empathy because he was yelled at.

  3. cbwhs21 October 18, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    I would feel bad for Te’Andre because he does not deserve to be judged.

  4. WLKHS0310 October 18, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    I would have felt really bad for Te’andre because he got embarrassed and maybe he doesn’t really “suck at sports” just because of how he looks.

  5. WLKHS219 September 29, 2016 at 2:01 am

    I would of felt terrible for Te’andre because Randy embarrasses him in front of the gym class and only Alissa showed compassion for what Te’andre was feeling

  6. wlkhs203 September 27, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    i would have felt bad for Te’andre because he is getting embarrassed in front of the whole and not a single person said anything.

  7. WLKHS0205 September 27, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    I would have felt really bad for Te’andre but I doubt I would have said anything to stop what was happening. The reason I would feel bad is because I understand how Te’andre was feeling because we have been in the same position before. I am not really good at baseball either and other people on the team I was on definitely made me feel bad about it.