Apathy Versus Empathy: How Each Can Help or Hurt You in the Long Run

Apathy and empathy are two words that refer to how humans interact with each other. Relationships are based on which approach is taken – whether the relationship will be weak because of lack of understanding – or strong because of understanding the feelings of others and acting accordingly.

Both apathy and empathy can be taken to the extreme and become hurtful. It’s easy to see how apathy can hurt others, but too much empathy can also be detrimental. For example, if you feel guilty for what you have compared to others, you’re seen to be empathetic.

But, if you begin to give away everything you’ve worked for or been given, you could become destitute and needy just like the people you compared yourself to. That doesn’t help anyone.

Being apathetic towards others means that you have a lack of interest in their well-being. You are very much in tune to your own needs and wants, but you lack the enthusiasm to help others.

One reason for apathy is that you feel powerless to make changes. You may shut people out of your life because you see emotions as too difficult or hurtful. Cutting emotional ties with others because you no longer care is a decision an individual makes.

In some ways, apathy is like a band aid on a cut. It keeps people (germs) from getting inside the cut or pain and helps it heal. This type of apathy can be good for some people who have experienced psychological trauma.

It helps them heal and recover in their own time. Someone who is apathetic tends to be numb to any type of emotions. While empathy allows a person to feel and connect with others, apathy is when all connections are severed.

Apathy and empathy can be carried from one extreme to another. Using emotional intelligence, an individual can decide when the best time to be empathetic is – and when to be apathetic.

Those with too much empathy in their personality can become overwhelmed with other people’s feelings. Negative effects such as anxiety and depression can occur when empathy takes over and causes suffering.

Protecting yourself from toxic people and avoiding negativity in your life might seem like apathy, but it could also save you from some of the trauma that comes from being too empathetic.

A good balance of empathy and apathy is necessary to keep on an even keel. Empathy will allow you to connect with others on a deeper level and that can be a good tool to build a lasting relationship.

Apathy can also be good when it helps an individual go on with his own life rather than become mired in the emotions of others. The ability to discern if you’re being empathetic or apathetic is necessary for a balanced personality.

All Careers Need a Certain Amount of Empathy

It’s not only the doctors and counselors in the world who need empathy to communicate with their clients – empathy is also needed in every aspect of the workplace. When you understand the emotions of other people, you’re going to naturally achieve more in the workplace.

Better relationships with your boss and coworkers are built by expressing empathy and if you’re in sales, you must have empathy for your clients or you won’t succeed as much as you could.

Studies indicate that empathy has declined in our society. Employers are seen as less empathetic as they should be and coworkers have become generally unaffected by other coworkers’ emotions.

On the other side, over 90% employees that were surveyed about empathy in the workplace agree that empathy has become undervalued as a way to motivate and increase productivity.

As a result, more employers and employees are interested in acquiring empathy to improve the workplace. Some ways to build empathy in the workplace include becoming more aware of what’s going on around you.

Sometimes that’s difficult to do. You may get stressed and even angry at the workload that’s being put on you and remain oblivious to others around you that might also be stressed.

When you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed at work, take a minute to stop and breathe deeply. Watch and listen to others and you’ll likely find out that others are feeling the same as you.

You can then understand – empathize – with them and feel better about the feelings that you’re experiencing. You’re not alone. When you understand the emotions and actions of others, you can better understand your own feelings.

Leaders of people tend to be more empathetic because they are a step ahead in figuring out why people think and act the way they do. It’s an outstanding quality of one who wants to influence and inspire others.

If you watch the news or have the opportunity to observe a prominent leader in the midst of others, notice how they speak to their audience. They tend to recognize people and seem to be truly interested in what they’re saying.

Their focus is directly on the person speaking, eye contact is made and empathy from the leader is clearly evident. You may have also seen or been with a person who is anything but focused on the person he’s trying to communicate with.

There is lots of fidgeting, no eye contact and a clear picture that he’s trying to get away or avoid a conversation. That person will never be a leader of others – unless he learns how to be empathetic.

Practice your empathy skills no matter what your career path. Even if you work from home, your communication can show your empathy toward others. Your voice and your written words indicate the type of person you are.


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