12 Best Exercises to Develop Empathy

The ability to empathize and feel emotions is an important competitive advantage in the world of artificial intelligence and self-learning robots. Empathy is very important for successful communication with other people, for your career and relationships. It depends a lot on your genes and upbringing, but research shows there are some things you can do. We've rounded up six science-backed techniques you can use to improve your ability to empathize and understand other people's emotions.

Our online program, Best Communication Techniques, will teach you other important components of successful interpersonal communication and provide practical skills that will help you connect with new acquaintances and even better understand your good old friends.

Features of feeling

Before learning how to develop empathy, it is useful to familiarize yourself with the features of this phenomenon. It is immediately worth noting that a person is not born with empathic abilities. Although this happens, it is extremely rare. Usually, a person masters empathy along with other skills and abilities, in proportion to the life experience gained. Most often, empathy manifests itself as sympathy, empathy, and also attraction to the individual with whom this psycho-emotional connection has arisen.

Rules for controlling the ability to empathize

In psychology there is a concept called “empathic fatigue.” It affects people whose jobs involve compassion and empathy every day: medical personnel, social service workers, rescuers. Faced with blood, pain and death every day, such people experience emotional empathic burnout syndrome.

If a person feels that he is an HSP and is gradually becoming emotionally exhausted, then preventive measures should be taken on “mental hygiene”.

You should learn to control and restrain your emotions. Move from identical suffering to rational help. Try to help the person in a detached manner, without letting his grief pass through you.

Empaths tend to be embarrassed to ask for help themselves. There is no need to do this. If you are in trouble, find yourself in a difficult situation, or just need someone to cry to, then feel free to contact people. You have helped many, let them help you too. It will happen that your imaginary loved ones will not want to sympathize, analyze whether you are wasting your life on people who will not tear themselves away from the sofa for you. Think rationally!

Avoid watching programs that will evoke emotions of sadness and compassion. Your films are comedies!

To gain energy, follow the banal rules: get enough sleep, spend time in nature, eat right.


Empathy is not a static character trait. It is influenced by external factors. A person can have perfect empathy, but lose this ability either partially or completely in a stressful, aggressive, incomprehensible environment. There are five levels in total:

  • People in this group are generally unaware of their empathy abilities. They are able to empathize, feel the moods of others, but it seems to them that at the moment they are experiencing their own emotions.
  • A person is aware of his ability to empathize, but still knows how to use it.
  • People of this group are clearly and clearly aware of their abilities, and if the interlocutor seems suitable for them, they actively use these techniques.
  • These people have a fairly developed sense of empathy and easily manipulate others.
  • The last group includes aces of empathy, of which there are not many in the world. They are in complete control of their empathic abilities and use them to perfection.

Positive and negative sides of empathy

In the article, we have already talked about the positive aspects of empathy: success in negotiations, a positive emotional climate at home and at work, and good self-esteem.

But, like any thing, empathy has a reverse, “dark” side, namely


  1. Strong emotional and nervous stress
    . A person constantly passes through the problems and pain of others as if it were his own business. He suffers, worries, wastes his energy and emotions.
  2. Strong empaths take responsibility for everything in the world

    . They believe that they are obligated to help everyone, and if this does not work out, they feel guilty. The desire to help extends not only to family and friends, but also to strangers.

  3. A person suffers from an extreme degree of altruism, i.e. helping others to the detriment of oneself

    . In this regard, their problems and troubles accumulate, and, as a rule, no one is in a hurry to help.

In addition, high empaths simply physically cannot say rudeness in response to rudeness and hurt the person who offended them. Therefore, sometimes people give the impression of being weak and weak-willed, although this is not at all the case.

Many people use this feature when solving personal issues. There are very few true HSPs (highly sensitive people) and they need to be protected.


Also, empathy itself can also be of several types:

  • Emotional (uses the motor reactions of the interlocutor).
  • Cognitive (understanding the interlocutor, affecting more intellectual processes).
  • Predicative (makes it possible to predict the reactions and actions of the interlocutor).

It is very important for every person to have empathy at least to some extent. And for people whose profession is related to the human factor, empathy is simply irreplaceable.

What is he like, this unique person – an empath?

People who have achieved a high level of empathy through self-improvement are, firstly, very kind, and this is a genuine quality. Secondly, they are compassionate, sincere, sensitive, attentive, and will never blame anyone for their own failures. Merciful.

These people manage their emotions competently. Otherwise, they can lead to dire consequences associated with deterioration of one’s own health.

Being an empath is a true gift. If there were more such people in our world, country, society, how many wars, troubles and misfortunes would be avoided. Therefore, both adults and children need to develop the ability to empathize.

Development methods: active listening

Nowadays, many people are willing to sacrifice a lot to gain such abilities. According to psychologists, this is a completely doable task, and there are special game exercises for this. How to develop empathy using these techniques? They need to be used as often as possible in real life. One of these techniques is active listening - asking questions to the interlocutor in a way that helps him to more fully reveal the topic. It also involves expressing your impressions on this matter. How to develop empathy using active listening techniques? The main principles of this technique are:

  • Presence of pauses in conversation. When the interlocutor has finished speaking, you should take a short pause. It allows both the listener and the speaker to think about what is said. For those who want to become more empathic, such a pause will allow them to better understand the speaker’s message.
  • Retelling. What the interlocutor said must be repeated briefly and in your own words. It is important that the retelling be brief. This allows the interlocutor to understand that he was understood correctly, that the problems he described were heard.
  • Clarification. Sometimes a person does not describe all the details of the events he describes. Since developing empathy means trying on the role of the interlocutor completely, in some cases it is impossible to do without clarifying questions.
  • A message that the information has been received. It is necessary to convey to the interlocutor the fact that his emotional state is heard and understood. For example: “I understand how sad you are. I want someone to take pity and share your experiences.”

What is empathy in psychology

For the first time, E. Titchener, a psychologist from America, drew attention to the chosen quality. What is empathy definition in psychology according to Titchener:

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