Signs of a Person Who Lacks Empathy
Because everyone is different, and empathy is a spectrum, low empathy or lack of empathy can be challenging to spot.
In general, some of the signs someone may lack empathy include:
1. Being critical and judgmental
People who have low empathy may excessively criticize other people for experiencing or expressing emotions in certain scenarios.
Someone with a lack of empathy may also blame the person for what they’re experiencing. For example, they may say things like, “If you didn’t do those things, you wouldn’t be in trouble now.”
Someone who isn’t empathetic may also label people or behaviors without considering the context. For example, they may criticize a colleague for being late, without realizing or appreciating that they have a sick child at home.
2. Thinking it wouldn’t happen to them
Someone with low empathy may have trouble connecting to other people’s circumstances.
They may believe that a certain event would never happen to them, or that they could handle the situation “much better.” Because they feel this is the case, they won’t be able to understand or feel the other person’s distress.
3. Calling other people ‘too sensitive
Because they have difficulty understanding another person’s perspective and sensing their emotions, a person that lacks empathy will sometimes think emotional reactions are not valid, or they may act in dismissive ways.
They may think people’s feelings are optional or come from what they may perceive as an emotional deficit. “You’re feeling that way because you want to or because you’re too sensitive, not because it’s really that bad.”
4. Responding in inappropriate ways
Someone with low empathy may joke about someone’s emotions or circumstances. They may also have a difficult time actively listening to you. They could also act chirpy or indifferent after you just expressed feeling sad or stressed.
Someone who is empathetic might try to cheer you up if they see you down. But someone who isn’t may ignore how you feel altogether.
5. Having trouble understanding how their behavior affects others
Often, low empathy may result in a person not realizing that their actions can affect others. Other times, they may understand that their behavior impacts other people, but they may not feel remorseful about it.
This means that someone may act in selfish or vindictive ways without realizing or caring if that hurts you.
Low empathy may lead to constant friction in relationships or a lack of meaningful bonds.
When someone has a difficult time understanding other people’s feelings or acting in helpful ways, they may end up with few or no meaningful connections. Sometimes, they’re not even aware this is happening.
7. Never apologies
If often that individuals may say things that hurt another soul and realize it, but never make amends. There is no apology.
Causes of low empathy
Everyone may experience low empathy at times. For example, it may be natural to have difficulty feeling and expressing empathy toward someone who has harmed you.
There is some debate on whether a person is born with low empathy or if upbringing, social factors, or life experiences may hinder their ability to develop it, or even limit it. Genetics may also play a role.
Other possible factors associated with low empathy include:
• Personality and developmental disorders
Among these conditions, levels of empathy can vary, depending upon the individual, their mentality, and other life factors.
Machiavellianism (a personality trait) and NPD (Narcissistic personality disorder, a mental health condition) have long been associated with a lack of empathy. *Reference here
However, one study suggests that people with these traits and disorders actually have a certain degree of empathy — they just may lack the motivation to show or act on it.
Additionally, autistic people can sometimes have difficulties with cognitive empathy. ** see below.
However, they may develop emotional empathy but face challenges with expressing it. A 2018 study by Trusted Source suggests that possible low empathy among autistic people is not related directly to the causes of autism but rather to the co-occurrence of alexithymia.
Because empathy is partly a learned behavior, you may not be as empathetic if you didn’t experience much empathy while growing up.
Also, if you were alone much of the time, you may not have had the opportunity to practice empathy. This, too, can lead to a reduction of empathetic expression.
• Low emotional intelligence, burnout, and stress
Emotional intelligence may be linked to empathy. If you haven’t developed this type of intelligence, you may also have low empathy.
Being under prolonged stress may also lead someone to be less tolerant of other people’s behavior and have lower cognitive empathy.
In some cases, emotional avoidance may also be a reason why someone may not develop or practice empathy. If someone is emotionally burned out, they may avoid all additional sources of distress, including relating to someone else’s difficulties.
In general, research also shows that some people may not develop compassionate empathy because of its perceived costs, like mental effort, time, and emotional weight.
Practical tips for developing empathy
Empathy can be developed. Here are a few tips for working on it:
• Building cognitive empathy
Consider asking questions whenever you feel you don’t understand what the other person feels: “How do you feel about this?” “What were you hoping for?” “Is there anything else going on in your life you may want to talk about?”
You could also work on being more observant of body language. You may be able to tap into someone else’s emotions if you notice a change in their expressions. This may also include focusing on nonverbal cues like tone of voice and change in habits.
Learning more about what’s important to those around you may also help you notice when their mood changes, even if you don’t feel the same way they do.
For example, if you know this person cares a lot about their pet — even if you don’t like animals — you may understand why the loss of their companion is devastating to them.
• Increasing emotional empathy
Working on recognizing your own emotions may help you connect with other people. Not everyone will recognize how they feel at all times or why they act in a certain way.
For example, you may act irritable and impatient today without realizing it’s because you’ve been sad about an argument you had yesterday.
Learning to connect your emotions with your actions may help you connect with other people’s emotions, too.
You could also practice listening more attentively and resisting the desire to tell the other person about your personal experience when they’re talking about themselves.
When you do this, consider focusing on how they feel and why they may be feeling this way.
• Enhancing compassionate empathy
As you develop both cognitive and emotional empathy, you’ll be more likely to have compassionate empathy and step into action when you see someone having a difficult time.
From our research, there are many types and levels of empathy. How much empathy you have depends on many factors, and may vary according to the situation.
Empathy may help you exhibit more helping behaviors and could also improve your relationships.
If you feel you could be more empathetic, you’ve taken the first step. Empathy is something you can develop, and it starts with awareness.
If you feel you’re having a challenging time developing empathy, you may want to seek the support of a mental health professional who can work with you in practicing a few techniques that may help.
Empathy, derived from the Greek word empatheia, which means ”passion or state of emotion”, is the ability to feel what others are feeling. It is an important part of human interaction that is, unfortunately, lacking in some people. When that lack is extreme, severe problems can be the result.
This type of empathy is an intellectual understanding of someone else’s feelings. It’s the ability to consider other perspectives without sensing or experiencing them yourself.
For example, if a colleague loses their job, you may recognize what emotions they could be feeling. You could also understand how their emotions might affect their behavior. This doesn’t mean you experience distress yourself.
2. Affective or ‘emotional’ empathy
People who have emotional empathy tend to feel another person’s emotions. Although not always the case, this may also include physical sensations consistent with such emotion.
For example, if you see someone in great distress after losing a loved one, you feel sad yourself and could experience chest or stomach pain while sensing that emotion in the other person.
3. Compassionate empathy or ‘empathetic concern’
Compassionate empathy is a combination of cognitive and emotional empathy. You recognize and understand another person’s emotions and also feel them.
Taking on another person’s challenges and hurt may end up taking a toll on you. This is why some people may not develop this type of empathy.
However, relating to other people’s suffering may also lead you to consider helping. And research suggests that when you do help, your body produces more dopamine — a “feel-good” hormone. This then leads and motivates you to continue acting on your cognitive and emotional empathy.
Ref: Very Well Mind
Disclosure: Life Faith & Truth does not pretend to be mental professionals or give medical advice to anyone. We research our work here and have studied nursing resources.
We always recommend that you visit a professional if you are having major problems with resolving any mental or medical health issues or healthy relationships. Suggestions indicated here are healthy methods for self-help methods.