Published Sept. 1, 2022
Empathy is probably one of the most misunderstood words in the English language. Many of us seem to think that it’s about sympathizing with others or having compassion for them. But empathy is so much more than that.
In a strict sense, empathy is about seeing things through other people’s eyes, walking in their shoes, and feeling what they feel. It’s the connection that stemmed from the shared experiences that brings us together as human beings.
But why is empathy important?
You see, life is like a prism. We may be looking at the same prism but each of us only sees a few sides of the entire structure. What you’re seeing right now is different from what others see. You may perceive the prism as beautiful because you only get to see the good side of it. But for those people who are facing the uglier side, the view can be bleak.
This is what makes empathy important. It allows us to view life from a different angle. Seeing things from their perspective helps us understand people better. We begin to understand where they’re coming from as well as their motivations and aspirations. From that comes sympathy, compassion, and selflessness. We become more aware of other people’s sufferings rather than focusing on our own.
Here are 100+ inspiring empathy quotes that will show you what it really means to empathize:
Empathy Quotes for Adults
- One of the most important aspects of being a human being, is being able to be in a relationship. Being able to successfully form and maintain a relationship. And at the heart of that capability is the capacity to put yourself in somebody else’s shoes, to see the world as how they see it. That capacity is empathy. – Bruce Perry
- This capacity for empathy leads to a genuine encounter – we have to progress toward this culture of encounter – in which heart speaks to heart. – Pope Francis
- The state of empathy, or being empathic, is to perceive the internal frame of reference of another with accuracy and with the emotional components and meanings which pertain thereto as if one were the person. – Carl Roger
- Empathy is forgetting oneself in the joys and sorrows of another, so much so that you actually feel that the joy or sorrow experienced by another is your own joy and sorrow. Empathy involves complete identification with another. – Dada Vaswani
- If you find yourself saying ‘But I’m just being honest’, chances are you’ve just been unkind. Honesty doesn’t heal. Empathy does. – Dan Waldschmidt
- All men are born firstly with the instinct to protect themselves. But few grow to really love themselves, and even fewer learn to love their neighbor as themselves. – Criss Jami
- If you look into someone’s face long enough, eventually you’re going to feel that you’re looking at yourself. – Paul Auster
- An exchange of empathy provides an entry point for a lot of people to see what healing feels like. – Tarana Burke
- Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eye for an instant? – Henry David Thoreau
- Empathy comes from the Greek empatheia – em (into) and pathos (feeling) – a penetration, a kind of travel. It suggests you enter another person’s pain as you’d enter another country, through immigration and customs, border crossing by way of query: What grows where you are? What are the laws? What animals graze there? – Leslie Jamison
- The greatest cruelty is our casual blindness to the despair of others. – Anonymous
- Empathy is the greatest virtue. From it, all virtues flow. Without it, all virtues are an act. – Eric Zorn
- I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the wounded person. – Walt Whitman
- Empathy speaks to us in those silent moments, away from our wounded ego and our wondering heart, in those empty spaces where questions run riot like lost and rejected soldiers… it tells us that each soul is worthy, valued, loved, and honored and we only ever need to face our own shadows, our own pain… and to be our own mirror. – Christine Evangelou
- All I ever wanted was to reach out and touch another human being not just with my hands but with my heart. – Tahereh Mafi
- Love is about bottomless empathy, born out of the heart’s revelation that another person is every bit as real as you are. – Jonathan Franzen
- We need to teach our children empathy and care and love and communication and social responsibility in preparation for adulthood. – Maya Soetoro-Ng
- When good people consider you the bad guy, you develop a heart to help the bad ones. You actually understand them. – Criss Jami
- If bullies actually believe that somebody loves them and believes in them, they will love themselves, they will become better people, and many will even become saviors to the bullied. – Dan Pearce
- Practicing kindness increases our ability to be empathetic. It helps keep our hearts open. And that, truly, is the best way to live. – Kristi Bowman
- The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy, we can all sense a mysterious connection to each other. – Meryl Streep
- Empathy begins with understanding life from another person’s perspective. Nobody has an objective experience of reality. It’s all through our own individual prisms. – Sterling K. Brown
- Yet, taught by time, my heart has learned to glow for other’s good, and melt at other’s woe. – Homer
- Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. – Leo Buscaglia
- Have compassion and empathy in your heart. Many people are suffering deep emotional anguish beneath the surface of their lives, and smile even as they hurt inside. – Jim Palmer
- If we are to love our neighbors, before doing anything else we must see our neighbors. With our imagination as well as our eyes, that is to say like artists, we must see not just their faces but the life behind and within their faces. – Frederick Buechner
- Empathy means both understanding others on their own terms and bringing them within the orbit of one’s own experience. – Jacob A. Belzen
- To embrace suffering culminates in greater empathy, the capacity to feel what it is like for the other to suffer, which is the ground for unsentimental compassion and love. – Stephen Bachelor
- If it is not tempered by compassion, and empathy, reason can lead men and women into a moral void. – Karen Armstrong
- Judge tenderly, if you must. There is usually a side you have not heard, a story you know nothing about, and a battle waged that you do not have to fight. – Traci Lea Larussa
- The only time you look in your neighbor’s bowl is to make sure that they have enough. You don’t look in your neighbor’s bowl to see if you have as much as them. – Louis C.K.
- The real test of love is loving those who we feel are the hardest ones to love. – Criss Jami
- Empathy is really the opposite of spiritual meanness. It’s the capacity to understand that every war is both won and lost. And that someone else’s pain is as meaningful as your own. – Barbara Kingsolver
- Empathy is one of humankind’s prized possessions. Acts of consideration and kindness are inevitable when a person can mentally step into someone else’s shoes. Even if it’s just for a moment. – Izey Victoria Odiaze
- Whether it is rational or empirical, your approach to life must always be empathetic. Emotional intelligence is acquired when knowledge and empathy are combined and applied to situations regularly in everyday life. – Stewart Stafford
- When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. – Henri Nouwen
- It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being. – John Joseph Powell
- The seeds of care and empathy are built into every human being and a variety of soils and fertilizers will allow those same seeds to grow and flourish. – Gudjon Bergman
- Whenever you are about to find fault with someone, ask yourself the following question: What fault of mine most nearly resembles the one I am about to criticize? – Marcus Aurelius
- When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection – or compassionate action. – Daniel Goleman
- I think we all have empathy. We may not have enough courage to display it. – Maya Angelou
- Anyone who has experienced a certain amount of loss in their life has empathy for those who have experienced loss. – Anderson Cooper
- There is no small act of kindness. Every compassionate act makes large the world. – Mary Anne Radmacher
- If we can get man to the moon, we can get man to walk in each other’s shoes. – Mary Gordon
- Experiencing terrible pain opens our hearts and minds to express compassion for other people and communion with ourselves. – Kilroy J. Oldster
Empathy Quotes for Kids
- You should not judge; you should understand. – Ernest Hemingway
- If you judge people, you have no time to love them. – Mother Teresa
- Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping him up. – Jesse Jackson
- Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. – Plato
- You can only understand people if you feel them in yourself. – John Steinbeck
- Whenever you feel like criticizing any one…just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had. – F. Scott Fitzgerald
- When you start to develop your powers of empathy and imagination, the whole world opens up to you. – Susan Sarandon
- One of the most important things you can do on this earth is to let people know they are not alone. – Shannon L. Alder
- Empathy is a respectful understanding of what others are experiencing. – Marshall B. Rosenberg
- The little things you do can be very significant to others. – Wayne Gerard Trotman
- Sometimes it takes only one act of kindness and caring to change a person’s life. – Jackie Chan
Quotes About Empathy at Work
- Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you do criticize him, you’ll be a mile away and have his shoes. – Steve Martin
- We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- Sometimes all a person wants is an empathetic ear; all he or she needs is to talk it out. Just offering a listening ear and an understanding heart for his or her suffering can be a big comfort. – Roy T. Bennett
- Empathy depends not only on one’s ability to identify someone else’s emotions but also on one’s capacity to put oneself in the other person’s place and to experience an appropriate emotional response. – Charles G. Morris
- When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems. – Stephen Covey
- A focus on empathy is just what is needed to make the world a better place for all animals, humans, and nonhuman alike. – Marc Bekoff
- Learning to stand in somebody else’s shoes, to see through their eyes, that’s how peace begins. And it’s up to you to make that happen. Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world. – Barack Obama
- I always think that if you look at anyone in detail, you will have empathy for them because you recognize them as a human being, no matter what they’ve done. – Andrea Arnold
- We cannot transform negativity into the positive without empathy, and we cannot truly understand empathy without experiencing it in our present life, in our past, and in our future. – Brian L. Weiss
- The greater good is achieved by not only telling people what they need to know but also filling them with a sense of empathy and love. – Abigail Disney
- No one reaches out to you for compassion or empathy so you can teach them how to behave better. They reach out to us because they believe in our capacity to know our darkness well enough to sit in the dark with them. – Brene Brown
- We need to understand the other side to impact the other side. We become much more effective as humans and leaders when we engage in hearty conversations with those who are different from us, not necessarily to change our opinions, but to build the empathy muscle. – Daniel Lubetzky
- Empathy may be the single most important quality that must be nurtured to give peace a fighting chance. – Arundhati Ray
- One doesn’t have to operate with great malice to do great harm. The absence of empathy and understanding is sufficient. – Charles M. Blow
- Empathetic presence involves listening to someone’s pain with what I call the five A’s: attention, acceptance, appreciation, affection, and allowing. – David Richo
- The only way to change someone’s mind is to connect with them from the heart. – Rasheed Ogonlaru
- Empathy is the starting point for creating a community and taking action. It’s the impetus for creating change. – Max Carver
- Empathy represents the foundation skill for all the social competencies important for work. – Daniel Goleman
- What you don’t realize is that the world does not need more perfection. It needs more compassion and empathy. – Tessa Dare
Short Empathy Quotes
- Empathy is a connection; it’s a ladder out of the shame hole. – Brene Brown
- Empathy is how kind hearts breathe. – Nitya Prakash
- Money is not the root of all evil. A lack of empathy is. – Cole Todd
- There’s something in everyone only they know. – Ben Harper
- It doesn’t hurt to show some empathy. – John Cornyn
- Empathy is the gateway; compassion is the way. – Scott Perry
- Empathy nurtures wisdom. Apathy cultivates ignorance. – Suzy Kassem
- Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself. – Mohsin Hamid
- Each person you meet is an aspect of yourself, clamoring for love. – Eric Micha’el Leventhal
- Empathy requires knowing that you know nothing. – Leslie Jamison
- When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen. – Ernest Hemingway
- I believe empathy is the most essential quality of civilization. – Roger Ebert
- The opposite of anger is not calmness, its empathy. – Mehmet Oz
- The highest form of knowledge is empathy. – Bill Bullard
- Empathy is like giving someone a psychological hug. – Lawrence J.
- Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care. – Theodore Roosevelt
- Wearing another’s skin is the most effective way to learn sympathy. – AG Howard
- There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up. – John Holmes
Empathy Quotes From The Dalai Lama
- Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.
- Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek.
- To the extent that our experience of suffering reminds us of what everyone else also endures, it serves as a powerful inspiration to practice compassion and avoid causing others pain. And to the extent that suffering awakens our empathy and causes us to connect with others, it serves as the basis of compassion and love.
- Looking at various means of developing compassion, I think empathy is an important factor: the ability to appreciate others’ suffering.
- Love is the absence of judgment.
- If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
- We need to take action to develop compassion, to create inner peace within ourselves and to share that inner peace with our family and friends. Peace and warm-heartedness can then spread through the community just as ripples radiate out across the water when you drop a pebble into a pond
- People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.
- Compassion and happiness are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.
- A truly compassionate attitude toward others does not change even if they behave negatively or hurt you.
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About The Author
Judy Ponio is a professional writer and devoted Christian. She has a passion for writing about topics related to morality and helping the poor and homeless. She is the lead author for the Our Father’s House Soup Kitchen blog.
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