Empathy is a superpower, but not everyone realizes they have it.
You see, being deeply empathetic isn’t just about understanding people’s feelings. It’s about unconsciously adopting behavior that makes others feel heard and validated.
People with a high level of empathy unconsciously exhibit certain behaviors that set them apart. And often they don’t even realize they are doing it.
Below are ten behaviors commonly exhibited by highly empathetic individuals, who may not even realize the impact they are making. Let’s dive in!
1) Active listening
Have you ever wondered why you feel so comfortable opening up to certain people?
Probably because they are excellent at active listening. This behavior is a hallmark of deeply empathetic individuals.
Active listening is more than just hearing words. It’s about really understanding and absorbing what someone is saying. It involves giving undivided attention, offering thoughtful responses, and showing genuine interest in the speaker’s feelings and experiences.
Empathetic people listen with their whole being. They don’t just wait for their turn to speak or reflect on their own experiences. They are fully engaged, making the person they speak to feel heard, seen and valued.
2) Picking up on subtleties
Let me share a personal experience with you.
A few weeks ago I was catching up with a friend over coffee. As we chatted, I noticed her facial expression changed slightly as she talked about her job. It was a subtle change – a brief flash of frustration on her face.
Now most people might have missed it. But being a deeply empathetic person, I noticed it right away. I gently asked her if everything was okay at work, and that opened up a whole conversation about the challenges she was facing.
Empathetic people have a knack for picking up on the subtlest signals: an offhand comment, a slight change in tone, or a fleeting facial expression. And often they don’t even realize they are doing it.
But this ability to perceive subtle shifts can make a world of difference to someone who is struggling. It shows them that you really care about them and that you are there with them in that moment – a gift that many don’t even realize they are giving.
3) Putting yourself in the shoes of others
Empathetic people have the uncanny ability to put themselves in someone else’s shoes.
It’s as if they have their own built-in high-resolution empathy radar, allowing them to perceive the world from someone else’s perspective. This is not as easy as it sounds. It requires a deep sense of understanding and emotional intelligence.
Research has shown that highly empathetic individuals can even synchronize their brain waves with those of the people they communicate with, reflecting their emotions and experiences.
They do this without even realizing it, creating strong emotional bonds and making others feel less alone in their struggles.
4) Provide comfort
Empathetic people are often the first to notice when someone is worried and the first to offer a reassuring word or gesture.
Whether it’s a warm hug, a supportive message, or just their calm presence, they naturally know how to make others feel better.
This instinctive desire to comfort doesn’t just apply to their close friends and family. They can extend this empathy to strangers, animals, and even fictional characters in books or movies.
5) Validate feelings
One of the most powerful things you can do for someone is to validate their feelings. And this is something deeply empathetic people do almost instinctively.
Instead of immediately offering solutions or advice, they acknowledge what the other person is feeling. They say things like, “That sounds really cool,” or “I understand why you feel that way,” creating a safe space for the other person to express his or her emotions.
This act of validation makes people feel heard and understood. It’s like saying, ‘I see you. I hear you. Your feelings are important.”
6) Feeling discomfort
Have you ever been in a room where the tension was so high you could cut it with a knife?
People with deep empathy can feel this discomfort, even if it is not so palpable. They can effortlessly notice the smallest signs of discomfort or fear in others.
It could be a slight change in body language, a change in tone or even a particular choice of words. These subtle signals are enough to realize that something is wrong.
And they don’t just stop at recognizing the discomfort. They feel compelled to address it, to alleviate it somehow. They can steer the conversation in a different direction, say a comforting word or simply be there for the person in need.
7) Finding connection is more important than being right
I remember a heated argument I once had with a good friend. She had views that were diametrically opposed to mine. In the heat of the moment, I felt my ego rise, pushing me to prove my point, to win the argument.
But then something changed. I realized that our friendship was more important than winning an argument. So I let go of my need to be right and instead focused on understanding her perspective.
This is a common trait among deeply empathetic people. They prioritize maintaining connection and understanding over proving a point or winning an argument. They would rather understand where you are coming from than force their perspective on you.
8) Be non-judgmental
Empathetic individuals have the unique ability to hold judgment at bay, creating a safe and open environment in which others can express their feelings and thoughts.
Whether it’s a friend sharing a personal struggle or a stranger expressing an unpopular opinion, empathetic people listen without judgment. They understand that everyone has their own journey and it is not their place to pass judgment on anyone else’s experiences.
9) Showing kindness, even in small ways
The core of empathy is kindness. Empathetic people understand this very well and often show kindness in small, subtle ways that make a big difference.
It can be as simple as a warm smile, a thoughtful word or a small act of service.
According to research People often don’t fully understand the impact of their small, spontaneous acts of kindness. Whether it’s carrying heavy items for an elderly neighbor or cooking for the underprivileged, these seemingly insignificant gestures have the power to bring joy to others.
These acts of kindness, no matter how small, have the power to brighten someone’s day, cheer them up and let them know that they are appreciated.
10) Adjust communication style
Empathetic people have a remarkable ability to adapt their communication style to the emotional needs of those around them, without even realizing it.
For example, they might provide constructive feedback in a direct manner to someone who prefers clarity, but take a more diplomatic approach to someone who values a softer delivery.
Deep down, they want to create a safe and supportive space where everyone feels comfortable sharing their feelings freely without fear of judgement. It’s their secret to building trust and creating stronger connections.
Moreover, different situations require different forms of communication. Empathetic individuals understand that tailoring their responses to the emotional context is not only compassionate, but also more effective.
Final Thoughts: Empathy is a choice
The beauty of empathy lies in its accessibility. Despite its roots in our emotional intelligence, empathy is not a fixed trait. It is a skill that can be nurtured and developed over time.
Highly empathetic people often exhibit these behaviors unconsciously, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t learn from them and cultivate our own capacity for empathy.
So let’s strive to be that person for others. Let’s choose empathy and create a world where everyone feels seen, heard and understood.
Share this content: