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empathyEmpathy is the ability to understand how someone else feels by imagining yourself in their position.

The ability to show empathy is a very important social skill in making and maintaining friendships. In business, too, it is important to be able to show empathy with customers, clients and even co-workers, particularly when dealing with disputes, complaints and other negative situations.

You're much more likely to be able to resolve a problem with someone if you show them that you understand their position or how they feel.

Some people are naturally empathetic; others have to actively work on developing the skill. There are a number of useful techniques for showing empathy. Here are five different techniques:

Reflecting – Reflecting on how you can see what someone is feeling:


I can see that you’re really upset about this.

You seem to be upset.

You seem upset.

You don’t seem to be very happy at the moment.

You seem to have made your decision already.


Legitimizing – Putting yourself in the other person’s situation:


I’d be upset, too.

I can understand why you would be upset about that.

I can definitely see why that would be frustrating.

I’m sure that irritated you!

I can understand your concerns, but….

I understand that,

I can see how hearing those comments might annoy you.

It’s not very nice to hear comments like that, is it?

I can understand your feeling betrayed by my not talking to you directly.

I can definitely see why that would upset you.


Supporting – Offering to help in a specific way:


I’ll be here if you have any questions,

If you are unhappy here, I am here to discuss it with you.

Partnership-building – Offering to work together as a team to solve a problem


Maybe we can focus on,,,,

Let’s see what we can do to resolve this problem together.


Respecting – Expressing admiration for how another person is coping with a situation


You don’t seem to be too upset about this.

You are dealing with this very well.


Full lesson including study notes, dialogues, listening practice, podcast, interactive exercises available only to members here.