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Empathy Vs Sympathy Vs Apathy In Customer Service

Both in personal and professional life, being empathetic and persuasive are two vital interpersonal skills you must have to build interesting relationships. Here is a list of examples to understand empathy Vs Sympathy in customer service as well as in everyday real life situations

Imagine, your close friend says, "I've been diagnosed of blood cancer" the way you react to this situation can be classified into:

Apathy: You don't bother, it is not important to you. You lack empathy. You say, "Ok, so what, I don't care"

Sympathy: You feel sorry but do not provide any solution. You say, "Oh no, how sad"

Empathy: You feel empathy, you listen to provide solution. You say, "I'm sorry to hear that, I understand how you feel, what did the doctor say, how can I help you?"

How these Behaviors are useful in Real Life

None of these behaviors are right or wrong and it can very useful in real life situations in both personal and professional life:


  • When you are dealing with various life roles that you play with people: son, brother/sister, boyfriend, husband/wife, grandfather to name a few.
  • When making personal decisions
  • When resolving intrapersonal value conflicts


  • When you're persuading, negotiating or influencing someone
  • When you're building rapport with someone
  • When you're actively listening to someone
  • When you ask questions to someone
  • When you compliment someone
  • When you show kindness and politeness
  • When you're resolving interpersonal conflicts
  • When you give/receive feedback

Effective Communication Skills 

You can show these behavior by consciously using your effective communication skills:
  • Use of eloquent language skills such as rhetorical devices and figure of speech
  • Use persuasive language skills

Communication Barriers to Avoid

When you portray these behavior, you can consciously avoid these verbal communication barriers:
  • use of redundant words
  • use of mother tongue influence (MTI)
  • being judgmental
  • using speech fillers  
To empathize is one of the top 5 human relations skills. To empathize is not only understanding a situation from others' perspective but also provide solutions to overcome a challenge. using 4 I acronym, you can improve your empathy skills.

3.I=You or Involve (involve yourself into others’ feeling and emotions from their point of view)
4.Invent a solution

Intrapersonal Skills

Feelings, beliefs, and attitude and thoughts that is happening within yourself is called intrapersonal behaviour. An intention that can benefit both, you and others, usually yields an interesting human relationships. Before interpreting (assuming) and inferring (concluding) people, events and situations, you must give enough time (incubate). Learn basics of intrapersonal skills through 5 I acronym: Intention, Intensity, Inflection, Intrepretation and Inference.

Interaction Skills

Verbal (Language), voice and visual (body language) are the three vital elements of human interaction. Use of appropriate words, tone or emotion of your voice and engaging body language such as eye contact, smile, and gestures shows your empathy towards others. A good interaction will have balance between silence, questions, information and listening. When you interact, you are not only expressing your thoughts but also making an effort to understand the feelings, opinions, and thoughts of the other person. People who have good interaction skills will be able to persuade, negotiate, convince and resolve conflicts with others.

Rate of speech, pitch, tone of a language, pauses and volume are some of the basic elements of vocal skills. Rate of speech—pace—is the number of words per minute. A moderate rate of speech is ideal in most conversations. Pitch is the shrillness of the voice. Generally, low pitch presentation is believed to bring credibility to the speech. Tone is the emotion behind the language. Examples include happy, excited and curious tone of voice. Pauses can be either long or short. Long pauses are taken when the speakers switches the topic; while, short pauses help in emphasizing an important point. Good pronunciation and articulation adds efficiency to the speech. 

Verbal (Language)

Whether you are giving an introduction speech or a interacting with a challenging client in business, a clear, concise, correct, credible and concrete language helps in building good relationship with people. Short yet effective words, statements that are specific, grammatically standard, with persuading facts can make any conversation verbally rich. Advanced language skills include, use of literary and rhetorical devices, rapport building questions and transition statements in speech. In fact, a good presentation will have rich language with specific keywords.


Basic elements of voice include pace, rhythm, Inflection, Volume, Accent, Timing, Emotion. To empathize, you should apply these skills harmoniously even if the other party is emotionally imbalanced with your emotions.

Visual (body language)

Non-verbal communication skills can be broadly divided into BUS mnemonic:

1.Behavioral cues
2.Unintentional cues
3.Speech (paralanguage) cues


You communicate to people non-verbally through BE SMART:

Body language: PIG Face: Posture, I (eye contact), Gestures, and Facial Expressions
Echo (Paralanguage)

Spatial (Proximics)
Movement (Kinesics)
Artifactual communication (Visual)
Range (Temporal communication) (time) (Chronemics)
Touch (Haptics)
I=You (Considering Others)

Looking at a situation from others' point of view is the crux of empathy. In fact, if you have undergone the same situation of others in your life, it becomes easy for you to empathize because you can put yourself in other person's shoes.

Invent a solution

Providing solutions by innovative and creative ways shows empathy. People who sympathize can only feel for a person while people who empathize ensure to find ways to solve a challenge.

Few people are born with empathy and it would be part of their attitude, while others consciously make an effort to improve empathy as a skill. With interesting intrapersonal and interpersonal skills, one can gradually enhance their empathy skills. The above behavior is partly your intrapersonal attitude. Besides being assertive, proactive, patient, being empathetic can help you to understand people from their point of view which inturn help you to resolve conflicts and build rapport.

1 comment:

  1. Well I'd opt for empathy towards sympathy!

    Thanks for wonderful post.


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