I am Dr. Hassan, a Board-Certified Physiatrist and Independent Practice Owner. I help physiatrists start and grow their own profitable practices so they can achieve financial independence and live without limits.

We talked about the importance of empathy in helping you build your profitable practice. But you might ask yourself, what is empathy and are there different types? Today we will discuss understanding the three types of empathy. Empathy is a wonderfully selfless response to someone else’s plight. Not only do you feel sympathetic for someone in an unpleasant situation, but you understand their feelings. You fully experienced the event with the perspective of the person going through it. In some cases, it’s as if you’re physically and emotionally living through the experience itself. This can be very draining for the highly empathetic individual. They’re always seeing situations where they internalize another person’s emotions and feel they must help in some way.

Some people don’t have that level of empathy. They will happily help another person and might even understand the point of view of an individual. They don’t necessarily identify what caused the problem in the first place. Even so, they still respond with empathy. To understand more about yourself and your feelings, let’s look at the three distinct types of empathy. One isn’t better than the other; they’re simply different ways of responding to the same situation.

1. Understanding emotional empathy. We’ll introduce you to cognitive empathy in a minute. One of the best ways to understand emotional empathy is with the comparison to the cognitive variety. Just remember this cognitive empathy is an attempt to walk a mile in another person’s shoes. While emotional empathy is screaming in pain when someone else steps on a nail. That definition from the masterclass website hits the nail on the head (pun intended). This usually occurs when someone experiences something you’ve been through before. You might not respond in that way if you’ve never stepped on a nail yourself. If you have, and you see someone else do it, your mind and body can go through an identical physical and visceral experience. This is understanding what another person is experiencing, because it’s accompanying with a physical response of some kind.

2. Cognitive empathy. We just talked about how this form of empathy is different than when you have an emotional empathetic response. Cognitive empathy can be described as taking someone else’s perspective. You relate to what someone else is going through, even if you’ve never experienced it yourself. This might mean looking at a situation or listening to someone talk while actively trying to imagine their feelings. You aren’t inserting your personal point of view, there is no bias on your part, and you’re not trying to insert your own experiences. Cognitive empathy simply means a conscious effort to understand the perspective of someone else. This is used in interviews to get the subject to be open and share deeper feelings.

3. Compassionate empathy and problem solving. Do people often come to you for advice? This might be because you’ve displayed compassionate empathy. It’s a wonderful skill in problem-solving situations. Compassionate empathy means looking at a negative situation and trying to get at the cause. You analyze the underlying reasons why something happened, as well as the effects. Compassionate empathy can be considered a hybrid of both the cognitive and emotional forms of empathy. With this ability, you can demonstrate to a person that you totally understand where they’re coming from. You don’t offer any bias or prejudice. You may even offer an alternative way of thinking, or some insight that helps the person in need.

Empathy in any form makes the world a better place. It’s selfless and caring. Understanding what type of empathy you’re practicing, can give you a better idea of the reasons behind your response.

During moments of upheaval, you can develop more empathy as you grow from the experience. Check out our blog post here for more ways you experience growth during these crucial moments.

I’m Dr. Hassan, a Board-Certified Physiatrist and Independent Practice Owner. I help physiatrists start and grow their own profitable practices so they can achieve financial independence and live without limits. Please go to businessofrehab.com/contractnegotiations to pick up the free guide to help you negotiate the contract of your dreams.

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