Empathic vs Empathetic-What is the Difference

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If you intentionally or stumbled on to this page, then you are wondering what is the difference between being empathic or empathetic. This post is about empathic vs empathetic and I will explain why some people confuse sympathetic for these two terms as well.

Before we go on, let’s do a little background on what empathy is. Empathy is the ability to share and understand the feelings of others. You normally are feeling empathy when you try to look at a subject from another person’s point of view.

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Let’s say you get into a fight with someone who is late for something very important to you. Most people go through stages of anger. According to Real Life Counseling, there are four emotions to anger. Let me talk about anger, and then I will explain how to use empathy to control anger.

The Emotions of Anger

1) Annoyed – Being annoyed means that someone or something is irritating or slightly bothersome to you. Using the Emotions of Angerexample mentioned above: your friend is late and this makes you a little angry. You are not ready to blow up on him or her, but you are bothered by the fact that they are late.

2) Frustrated – Frustration occurs when you move beyond just being a little upset that your friend is late. The fact he or she is late, probably not the first time, is causing you to experience stress. Now you are feeling a resentment towards this person and it is hard to stay calm. If they say one word you just might snap and yell, leading you to the third emotion.

3) Hostile – When you become hostile, you can no longer cope with the fact that they are late for the thing you feel is very important. Now you are yelling at them and all the negative thoughts you have for this person floods your mind, making it even hard to calm down and think rationally, leading to the fourth emotion.

4) Enraged – When you become enraged, you lose all self-control. You might damage something her or she likes because they damaged your special occasion. You cannot control your anger. Instead, your anger is enraged and it is controlling you.

One great way to escape this cycle is to try to think about the argument from your friends point of view. We call this “walking in their shoes”or “seeing it through their eyes”. When you start to feel annoyed or frustrated, instead or reacting, ask your friend why they are late. Try to find out what happened from his or her point of view.

Once you hear his or her side of the story, try to see the situation from their shoes. This is using empathy about the subject.

Now that we know and understand what empathy is, now let’s talk about what empathetic and empathic is.

Empathic vs Empathetic

You might be surprised to find out these words are interchangeable. They both relate to a person who is able to show the ability to understand and share the feelings and emotions of others. When you are able to look at a situation through another person’s eyes, then you are being both empathic and empathetic by using empathy.

These two words should not be confusing. They mean the same thing. You can look up the definitions yourself by clicking here for empathic and here for empathetic.

Using empathy when you deal with other people is a great way to discover gratitude for some of the situations you find yourself in daily. Check out one of my earlier post on practicing gratitude to learn more about this.

These two terms may seem confusing for some people because they think they need to be two different things, but as you can see they are not. One of the biggest confusions that people have with the term, “Empathy,” is confusing it with “Sympathy.”

What is the Difference Between Sympathy and Empathy

Sympathy is defined as have feelings of pity or sorrow for the misfortune of others. It can occur when you meet someone who has been through the same experience as you and they or you understand where the other person is coming from. An example could be: you meet someone who just lost a loved one and you went through the same thing a few years earlier.What is Sympathy

When you express sympathy for another person, you are being sympathetic. This is close to empathetic, but it is not entirely the same.

We have already defined what empathy is, but let’s recap. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. When you are being sympathetic towards another you are feeling empathy as well. It seems like they go hand in hand, but in truth, empathy is much broader than sympathy.

Empathy is not constrained to just pity. Empathy is an action that is broad enough to span all emotions.

When someone wins something, like the lottery, and you join in on his or her celebration with smiles and high-fives, you are using empathy. When you get angry about something and someone shares your anger, they are not being sympathetic: they are being empathetic about your emotion.

Empathy is much broader than just feelings of sorrow, but many people confuse these two states of being. A person may call themselves empathic when they try to help others cope with sad emotions, but in truth, he or she is only being sympathetic. If they share the emotion of sadness with the person without trying to help, then they are expressing empathy and are truly an empathic.

Why Bring This Up?

I believed that by helping others with times of trouble that I was acting with empathy. I believed that my care for others and his or her misfortune was very empathic in nature and I confused sympathy for empathy. I even told people they were empathetic for helping others in times of sorrow. Everything was great until I realized there was a bright side to empathy.

I was studying the Origins program by Katherine Hurst and she mentioned that you express empathy when being happy for someone else’s happiness. This was big shocker to me. It totally changed my paradigm. You can learn more about this program by checking out this review post I wrote earlier.


People are confused by the words “empathic” and “empathetic” even though they mean the same thing. Many people believe that empathy and sympathy are one and the same and do not realize he or she is confused. I had to be woke up to realize the falsy in this train of thought.

Empathy is not synonymous with understanding sorrow or pity. It is something that we share with people who are not only sad; but also happy, angry, excited, curious, nervous, jealous, and any other emotion someone is expressing.

Isn’t it great that we can practice empathy during all the great times in life too?

I think so as well.

==>I would love to hear your experiences, questions, and thoughts about this subject, so please feel free to leave a comment below. I normally respond within 24 hours. Feel free to share this information with anyone you think will benefit from it. Talk with you later, Greg<==

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10 thoughts on “Empathic vs Empathetic-What is the Difference”

  1. Hi – very good defining post of empathic and empathetic. You brought out the differences making a picture in my mind. Showing “Empathy is an action that is broad enough to span all emotions.’ That turns on the light bulb over my head. Great read, thank you.

  2. Thanks for presenting the clarifications between the terms “sympathy”, “empathy” and “empathic” in a clear and concise manner.

    In empathy, you connect with someone at a much deeper level than when you sympathize with them. Sympathy can be superficial and not necessarily heartfelt.

  3. Thank you for reminding me of the importance of this. It is easy to get lost in the world of work and forget about the reasons why we work so hard. All the very best.

    • The very best to you too, Catherine.
      We don’t need to count our blessings, just be aware of them and appreciate them in our lives.


  4. This has cleared up the difference between Empathic and Empathetic, I also found understanding sympathy also was very useful as well. You did a fantastic job learning this up for myself and your other readers, now we know the difference which I can see now is important.


    • Thanks Jeff,
      It is important for people to know that you don’t only have to sympathize with other people just to show empathy. There are many positive ways to do it too.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Hi Greg, thanks for sharing the post to define empathy vs empathetic. I thought they are the same and yes indeed. But I learn the difference today between empathy and sympathy which is what really got me confused in the past.

    • Hi Richard,
      I think you are not alone in getting empathy and sympathy confused. I was confused for many years before I learned the difference.
      Thanks for stopping by.


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