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Want a break from yourself? Show some empathy

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Sympathy is exhausting. Empathy gives you energy.

What is sympathy?

Sympathy is feeling pity and compassion, and it can be exhausting.

What is empathy?

Empathy is actually feeling what someone else is feeling.

It is not imagining how someone is feeling by putting yourself in their shoes. It’s a nice thing to do, of course. But it is different from real empathy. The phrase many people use is imagine walking a mile in their shoes. I heard one chief marketer say that he took some shoes that his customers might wear to a board meeting so that the senior management could try them on. It is a worthy thing to do, and it does take some effort. But it is not empathy.

The example I use in our book Belonging to illustrate this is of a pet cat. Pet cats like to bring their owners presents. The best way that they can show their love for their owner is to bring them a present that they themselves would love to receive. Usually this is a dead bird or a dead mouse. It........

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