Empathy and Sympathy at Work

The meanings of empathy and sympathy are sometimes confused. To clarify the matters, first, we have to define them. Sympathy is an expression of concerns we have about someone or some people. It is generally based on experiences and incidents and it is associated with a deep sorrow you feel about someone. Empathy, on the other hand, is the ability to notice what is happening in someone else’s mind. It is the skill of seeing a particular story from another person’s perspective, noticing their deepest emotions and sharing those with others.

While sympathy about coworkers shows your kindness and is considered as value at work, psychologists warn that an extreme level of empathy at work might be harmful. As a matter of fact, focusing on what your boss or colleagues are thinking at any moment never helps. Thinking too much about others’ personal desires and hidden motivations tackle your attempts to build healthy relationships with them. In a long run, this approach will isolate you in the workplace. It also takes a lot of energy to figure out what is in someone else’s thoughts.