I wish more people got this because some ‘low-empathy’ people are the most compassionate and sympathetic in the universe, and I hate it when that’s taken to mean ‘unfeeling and probably hostile’ when nothing could be further from the truth
Or, as my dad put it,
Sympathy: I know how you feel
Empathy: I feel how you feel
Compassion: is there anything I can do to help?
Posting this because I see these words used interchangeably in RP writing a lot, and they are – in fact – not the same. Know the differences and impress your writer friends! It really is noticeable when someone has a strong grasp of vocabulary, and thus is a stronger writer.
Also, empathy is not always compassionate or sympathetic! It very often goes with those two, but empathy itself is not a requirement for feeling sympathy or compassion at all. Empathy works like a sponge, and can happen whether you care about the people around you or not. It works with negative emotions such as anger, and can make you question which of the emotions you currently feel are your own.