Empathy Without Communication Is Mind Reading
Pam Ressler, RN, BSN, HN-BC, and I discussed how healthcare professionals, family, and friends use empathy vs. sympathy to respond to someone who is ill when I told her about my blog post. Pam had insights based on both professional and personal experiences. She told me about Empathy vs. Emotional Reasoning in Nursing, in Advance for Nurses, which Pam posted a blog entry about. The article defines empathy and emotional reasoning as:
Empathy is defined as the ability to understand another person’s circumstances, point of view, thoughts and feelings. When experiencing empathy, one should be able to understand someone else’s internal experiences.
Emotional reasoning is defined as ‘a cognitive error whereby a person who is nervous or anxious resorts to emotional reactions to determine a course of action.’
The article advises “empathy without communication is mind reading. Listen to patients; provide education, but don’t give advice.”
Pam also mentioned a study about doctors and empathic communication that “sheds light on the types of situations and remarks that physicians should recognize as opportunities to express understanding and support… empathic responses can be brief and do not make consultations longer.”