Empathy is the ability to recognize another’s feelings, and it comes in different forms. Cognitive empathy is simply recognizing how another person is feeling or thinking through verbal, tonal, and behavioral cues. Compassionate empathy is more of a developed skill, allowing us to connect with the emotions of another without taking on the full weight of those emotions ourselves. It’s often what most people mean when they refer to empathy or say someone is an “empathetic person.” Emotional empathy is physically reflecting how another person is feeling: if you see someone feeling upset, you also feel the same upset in your own body. It can tune us in deeply to another’s pain, but it can also paralyze us from effectively helping. Some call those who experience emotional empathy “empaths.” Some empaths also deal with hyper-empathy, feeling what others feel so acutely that it becomes unmanageable or disorienting.

Empathy: Overrated?

Be kind, show understanding, do good—but, some scientists say, don’t try to feel others’ pain.

The Surprising Downsides of Empathy

There’s a dark side to feeling the emotions of other people. In some cases, it can even lead to cruelty, aggression, and distress.

Cultivating Empathy in My Children, from a Neuroscience Perspective

Empathy is divided into cognitive, emotional and applied empathy, all of which are valuable. For empathy to truly be useful to the human condition, our kids must have applied empathy, or compassion.

Three Ways to Raise Empathic Kids So They Become Compassionate Adults

Considering how to make the children in our lives better people helps us reflect on how we ourselves can be more compassionate.

Help When Your Heart Breaks

Caring for people who are suffering is a loving, even heroic calling, but it takes a toll. Roshi Joan Halifax teaches this five-step program to care for yourself while caring for others.

6 Easy Ways to Measure Your Child’s Empathy

Research-based ideas to help us practice our most important skill: kindness.

Shame and Compassion: Q&A With Paul Gilbert Part 2 of 2

Psychology of compassion is discussed (part 2)

Know Your Enemy

We call people who harm us enemies, but is that who they really are? When we see the person behind the label, say Buddhist teachers Sharon Salzberg and Robert Thurman, everyone benefits.

Compassion In Business

Compassion isn’t a fluffy soft skill but courageous action that powerfully impacts organizations.

A Conversation with Alice Walker

The bestselling author discusses her role as a global citizen and her connection with nature, history, and activism