Many times in life people will go through challenging situations and will need a person to be their for them to give emotional support, but which is the best form? Is it empathy or sympathy? and what are these two different types of support and how can we recognise them?
When we are in challenging situations sometimes we just need somebody to listen and understand where we are so we do not feel alone and yet other times we will need that person who appears at the side of the swimming pool telling us how to swim out rather than getting in. The person who will get in the swimming pool with us so we do not feel alone may be said to be more empathetic and the person who stand on the side of the pool showing us how to swim could be seen as more sympathetic, both are vital emotional support systems in different times of emotional support or coaching but the essential skill is to know which to use and when. In this post there is the very powerful video by Dr Brené Brown in the RSA shorts animation which give one of the most clearest view of the difference of empathy and sympathy.