You’re Not Very Empathetic If You Do These Things

You’re Not Very Empathetic If You Do These Things

Consider yourself a caring, empathetic person? It might be time to reassess. After all, truly empathetic people are able to put themselves in other people’s shoes to really understand where they’re coming from and what they’re going through and offer them comfort and encouragement. If you’re constantly doing these things, you’re not doing very well in the empathy department.

1. You dismiss other people’s feelings.

“Get over it!” “What’s the big deal?” If you can’t understand why someone’s hurting, don’t downplay their emotions. Imagine how it would feel if someone treated your pain like an inconvenience. You don’t have to agree with their emotions to validate them and offer a listening ear. Not everyone reacts to things the same way. Don’t belittle them because their responses are different to yours.

2. You one-up everyone’s struggles.

If your friend had a bad day, you’ve had an even worse one. If your colleague is snowed under with a huge project, you’ve got one that’s even bigger and more stressful. Every conversation turns into a misery contest. That’s not support, it’s ego-driven and makes you seem completely self-absorbed. Give it a rest already!

3. You’re always playing devil’s advocate.

It’s one thing to offer perspective, but it’s entirely another to undermine people’s feelings. When someone confides in you, try to listen first. Picking apart their pain instead of showing support is callous, not clever. Seeing the flip side can come in handy, but it’s not always appropriate to point this out, especially when sometimes is upset.

4. You manage to turn every conversation back to yourself.

Someone needs a shoulder to cry on but you somehow manage to make it all about your own issues. If your first instinct is to steal the spotlight with your own drama, most of which is totally pointless and not a big deal, maybe take a step back and reflect. You should be able to hear other people out without needing to be the star of the show.

5. You offer unsolicited (and terrible) advice.

Telling a grieving person to “cheer up” isn’t wisdom, it’s shallow. Sometimes, offering so-called solutions without fully understanding the problem just shows you don’t actually care about what they’re going through. Empathetic people know how to validate people’s feelings (as previously mentioned) and offer true support rather than jumping into fixer mode.

6. You judge instead of trying to understand.

Quick to assume why someone’s struggling? Your biases blind you to genuine compassion. Everyone has battles you don’t see – extend some grace even when someone reacts in ways you don’t understand. As much as you think you know someone, chances are they’ve faced challenges you wouldn’t even know the first thing about. Remember that and act accordingly.

7. You rush to fix everyone’s problems.

While well-intentioned, being Captain Fix-It often backfires. It’s dismissive, for starters, and it also oversteps people’s boundaries in many cases. Sometimes people just need to vent, not receive a step-by-step plan to resolve an issue you only got a 10-second explanation of. Take it easy there, bud.

8. You’re all about “at least…”

“At least you weren’t hurt!” “At least you didn’t get fired!” Seriously? Minimizing someone’s pain when they’re having a tough time really doesn’t help. Everyone faces struggles on their own scale. Instead of trying to force them to be grateful that things weren’t 10x worse, just acknowledge that what they’re feeling is legit and okay.

9. You think emotion = weakness.

Do you roll your eyes at teary moments or view vulnerability as a flaw? Real strength lies in embracing feelings, both yours and other people’s. Dismissing genuine emotion makes you seem cold and incapable of deep connection. To be honest, if this is how you go on all time, maybe you are.

10. You change the subject when things get heavy.

Emotional talks make you squirm, so you steer things back to light topics. This shuts down honest conversations and makes people feel completely unsupported and unheard. Sure, talking about feelings can be tough sometimes, but buck up — you’re a grown adult. Learn to sit with uncomfortable truths – that’s how trust is built.

11. You’re all about “positive vibes only.”

Trying to force some crazy upbeat attitude when someone is obviously upset or struggling isn’t helpful, it’s toxic. People need the space for a full range of emotions, not to be smothered by your need for everything to remain sparkly at all times. Positive vibes only completely neglects the basic truth that not everything is great all the time. Dial it back a bit.

12. Being there for people is a chore, not a privilege.

If listening to a friend’s problems feels draining, do some reflecting on why that might be. Caring involves sacrifice. Feeling put out when someone reaches out shows you think your own time and energy are far more valuable than their well-being. If you really care about them, wouldn’t you want to do everything in your power to make their lives better?

13. You give people the silent treatment.

Stonewalling, ghosting, or just shutting down when things get emotional is immature and cruel. Because you clearly lack the skills to handle your own discomfort, you choose to punish other people for it. That’s manipulation as well as a lack of empathy. It’s time to change how you behave.

14. You only get invested if it’s dramatic.

Mild inconveniences get a blank stare, but full-blown meltdowns suddenly command your undivided attention. This is a clear sign that you’re addicted to drama and that you have an unhealthy need for emotional chaos that has NOTHING to do with the other person.

15. Accountability doesn’t apply to you.

You’ve hurt someone, they call you on it, and your priority is defending yourself rather than changing your behavior. If your ego matters more than your impact on others, guess what? Your empathy ain’t working.

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Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill