Showing Genuine Sympathy, Kindness, and Empathy For Others

Character Core

When someone tells you about a difficulty in their life, how do you respond? Do you want to hear all about the problem and help them figure it out; do you feel inadequate, but still want to help them; or does it make you feel uncomfortable, and make you want to run for the hills? Your natural response often depends on your personality, but even if you want to run for the hills, hear the person out, and show compassion for their difficulty.

Compassion can be described as having genuine sympathy and concern as well as showing kindness and empathy for other people’s sufferings and misfortunes. Personality and familiarity with the person impact how compassion will look. There are several key components when showing compassion to family, friends, and acquaintances.

Prioritize the Other Person

Time is valuable, but people are more important! It takes courage to tell someone about the difficulties in their life, and if we are too
busy to listen and care about them (even for a few minutes), it says a lot about the things that we value.

Listen First

Just because someone is telling you about a difficulty, doesn’t mean that they automatically want you to “fix” their problems or give them advice. Sometimes, people just need to vent for a few minutes to help them process the situation themselves.

Communicate Verbally and Non-verbally

Think before you speak and be aware of your body language. A difficulty can quickly be made worse through thoughtless words and actions. Show the person that you care through non-verbal actions – eye contact, facial expressions, facing the person, and giving them your full attention.


Tell them that they can handle the difficulty. Your positive reinforcement might be all they need.

Respect Privacy

If the person wanted everyone to find out about their difficulty, they would tell everyone. However, they didn’t. They told you. Value the trust that they gave you and don’t gossip about the person or their difficulty!

The way that we respond to others when they confide in us can have a big impact on them, and sometimes we won’t know the positive or negative impact that we have on them until years later. Let’s be people that are filled with compassion for others and give compassion that comes from the heart.

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