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Empathy: Intangible Asset

Empathy vs. Sympathy in the perspective of a Journalism student

By Camille DellosaPublished 2 months ago 3 min read
Empathy: Intangible Asset
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Filipinos are known as good English speakers. Filipinos also tend to use the skill of speaking other languages as a method of gauging a person’s intelligence. It’s just funny how Filipinos are using foreign languages more when they don’t even know how to distinguish the true meaning and implications of some basic words.

After two decades and two of existence, I surprisingly misused the terms empathy and sympathy multiple times as if these two terms can often be used as synonyms.

A YouTube video entitled “How Empathy Works - and Sympathy Can’t” proved the popular misuse of the idea, that we have been ignorantly using these two different terms to mean the other. Practically the video presents authenticity, on how people will have one of two responses to a painful condition.

But clearly, these two ideas have different corresponding meanings and results in the situation. Their primary difference can be shown through the level of emotional connection and understanding involved.

With this said, the sympathetic response allows us to feel the pain of another without being entirely immersed in it. Sympathy in common usage is the felt sense in immediate response to your suffering or another’s pain and is normally applied in recognizing someone else’s distress.

“Sympathy always ends in the same way with a bungled rescue attempt”, this is because the act is full-on unsolicited advice or opinion that we give to the person that will lead to nothing but only deepen their pit of sadness.

With that, I do believe it is very easy to feel sorry because it is our first reaction towards the situation compared to keeping on immensely adapting to someone’s set of circumstances.

While, when we empathize with someone, we can change the game. We genuinely put ourselves in their situation and feel their emotions as if they were our own. Empathy shows a deeper cognitive understanding of your suffering or another’s pain.

It goes beyond “feeling sorry” for someone else’s distress but thinking about everything they're going through, being aware of, being sensitive to, and experiencing another's feelings, ideas, and experiences in the past or present without having those feelings or experiences fully stated in an explicitly objective manner.

To give you a context, we go out into the world and report and write about people’s stories who live different lives than we do. This is what we journalists do, even though I am still working my way to be a professional journalist.

As a journalist, it is a must to be an effective writer to write stories with deeper understanding if we are to write in an open, meaningful, sensitive, and contextual manner. And those who have experienced what we are attempting to describe firsthand are the ones who provide this understanding.

Writing, reporting, and doing background research for journalists, is the way of expressing and spreading information, and what comes with it is the intangible asset of being able to heartily empathize with the masses that we serve.

I believe empathy is crucial in our field, and that is why Journalism fails when empathy is lost. I would argue that trying to comprehend other people's perspectives is a constant task, but surely it is a must.

Simply put as journalists and writers, we are the best persons to carry out such empathic responses and understanding to the people we meet every day; by doing so, we could not only accomplish the objective of empathy but also the aim to trust in their ability to handle their difficult situation on their own it could achieve through it as well.

All in all, let us all try to build our empathy capability as it will help others in the process.


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Camille Dellosa

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    Camille DellosaWritten by Camille Dellosa

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