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63 Best Empathy Quotes from Empaths & World Changers

Empathy Quote Graphic: "The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy, we can all sense a mysterious connection to each other.” Meryl Streep

Esteemed author and researcher Brené Brown once said, “Empathy fuels connection.” 

In a world that feels deeply divided in many ways, those who are able to practice empathy have a unique ability to make a positive difference on large and small scales. Empathy gives us the power to compassionately understand the emotions and experiences of those different from us, to help others feel seen and known, and also to be mindful of how our actions and words affect others.

At Good Good Good we see empathy has the first step to feeling more hopeful about the world, allowing us to mourn bad news and problems before we join in creating solutions.

Practicing empathy isn't easy — especially when the stakes are high — but it's important.

Speaking on empathy again, Brown said, “Empathy has no script. There is no right way or wrong way to do it. It’s simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of ‘You’re not alone.’”

In this article, we’ve curated the best and most helpful empathy quotes from some of the world’s greatest empaths and world changers. These quotes will help us to understand empathy and the inspirational power it can have on us, as well as how we can use it to leave a positive difference in the world and those around us.

The Best Quotes for Empathy

Famous Quotes About Empathy

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
Nelson Mandela

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” — Nelson Mandela

“The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy, we can all sense a mysterious connection to each other.” 
— Meryl Streep

“The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy, we can all sense a mysterious connection to each other.” — Meryl Streep

“Learning to stand in somebody else’s shoes, to see through their eyes, that’s how peace begins. And it’s up to you to make that  happen. Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world.”
Barack Obama

“Learning to stand in somebody else’s shoes, to see through their eyes, that’s how peace begins. And it’s up to you to make that  happen. Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world.” — Barack Obama

“If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from his angle as well as your own.”
— Henry Ford

“If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from his angle as well as your own.” — Henry Ford

“This capacity for empathy leads to a genuine encounter — we have to progress toward this culture of encounter — in which heart speaks to heart.”
— Pope Francis

“This capacity for empathy leads to a genuine encounter — we have to progress toward this culture of encounter — in which heart speaks to heart.” — Pope Francis

“If you look into someone’s face long enough, eventually you’re going to feel that you’re looking at yourself.”
— Paul Auster

“If you look into someone’s face long enough, eventually you’re going to feel that you’re looking at yourself.” — Paul Auster‍

“I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the wounded person.”
— Walt Whitman

“I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the wounded person.” — Walt Whitman

“Whenever you are about to find fault with someone, ask yourself the following question: What fault of mine most nearly resembles the one I am about to criticize?”
— Marcus Aurelius

“Whenever you are about to find fault with someone, ask yourself the following question: What fault of mine most nearly resembles the one I am about to criticize?” — Marcus Aurelius

“Each one of us has lived through some devastation, some loneliness, some weather superstorm or spiritual superstorm, when we look at each other we must say, I understand. I understand how you feel because I have been there myself. We must support each other and empathize with each other because each of us is more alike than we are unalike.”
Maya Angelou

“Each one of us has lived through some devastation, some loneliness, some weather superstorm or spiritual superstorm, when we look at each other we must say, I understand. I understand how you feel because I have been there myself. We must support each other and empathize with each other because each of us is more alike than we are unalike.” — Maya Angelou‍

For Kids

“If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours.”
Dolly Parton

“If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours.” — Dolly Parton

“If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
— Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird 

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
— Epictetus

“Empathy is a respectful understanding of what others are experiencing.”
— Marshall B. Rosenberg

“Empathy is a respectful understanding of what others are experiencing.” — Marshall B. Rosenberg

“Sometimes it takes only one act of kindness and caring to change a person’s life.”
— Jackie Chan

“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one… just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
— F. Scott Fitzgerald

“When you start to develop your powers of empathy and imagination, the whole world opens up to you.”
— Susan Sarandon

“You should not judge; you should understand.”
— Ernest Hemingway

“You should not judge; you should understand.” — Ernest Hemingway

On Compassion

“The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.”
— Albert Schweitzer

“The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.” — Albert Schweitzer

“When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection — or compassionate action.”
— Daniel Goleman

“Can I see anothers woe,
And not be in sorrow too.
Can I see anothers grief,
And not seek for kind relief.
Can I see a falling tear.
And not feel my sorrows share,
Can a father see his child,
Weep, nor be with sorrow fill’d.
Can a mother sit and hear,
An infant groan, an infant fear-
No no never can it be,
Never, never can it be.”
— William Blake, Songs of Innocence and of Experience

“Looking at various means of developing compassion, I think empathy is an important factor: the ability to appreciate others’ suffering.”
— Dalai Lama

“Learning to give empathy to myself and others as often as I can each day has rendered astounding benefits… Empathy leads to compassion and compassion to forgiveness and connection.”
— Judith Hanson Lasater

“Learning to give empathy to myself and others as often as I can each day has rendered astounding benefits… Empathy leads to compassion and compassion to forgiveness and connection.” — Judith Hanson Lasater

On Leadership

“Leadership is about empathy. It is about having the ability to relate to and connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives.”
— Oprah Winfrey

“Leadership is about empathy. It is about having the ability to relate to and connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives.” — Oprah Winfrey

“One of the criticisms I’ve faced over the years is that I’m not agressive enough or assertive enough or maybe somehow because I’m empathetic, it means I’m weak. I totally rebel against that. I refuse to believe that you cannot be both compassionate and strong.”
— Jacinda Ardern, 40th Prime Minister of New Zealand

“As a leader, you should always start with where people are before you try to take them where you want them to go.”
— Jim Rohn

“As a leader, you should always start with where people are before you try to take them where you want them to go.” — Jim Rohn

“Leadership is not so much about technique and methods as it is about opening the heart. Leadership is about inspiration — of oneself and of others. Great leadership is about human experiences, not processes. Leadership is not a formula or a program, it is a human activity that comes from the heart and considers the hearts of others. It is an attitude, not a routine.”
— Lance Secretan

“The main tenet of design thinking is empathy for the people you’re trying to design for. Leadership is exactly the same thing — building empathy for the people that you’re entrusted to help.”
— David M. Kelley, IDEO

“If you aren’t humble, whatever empathy you claim is false and probably results from some arrogance or the desire to control. But true empathy is rooted in humility and the understanding that there are many people with as much to contribute in life as you.”
— Anand Mahindra

“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.”
— Daniel Goleman

“Leading with integrity and empathy requires vision and a connection to your deepest self.”
— Karla McLaren, The Art of Empathy

“Empathy is the starting point for creating a community and taking action. It’s the impetus for creating change.”
— Max Carver

“Empathy has the power to bring together people who would otherwise never meet. It has the power to teach us and to reach us in moments of isolation when we think nobody understands.”
— Dr. Vivek Murthy, United States Surgeon General

“Empathy may be the single most important quality that must be nurtured to give peace a fighting chance.”
— Arundhati Roy

“Empathy may be the single most important quality that must be nurtured to give peace a fighting chance.” — Arundhati Roy

For Work

“Empathy depends not only on one’s ability to identify someone else’s emotions but also on one’s capacity to put oneself in the other person’s place and to experience an appropriate emotional response.”
— Charles G. Morris

“Empathy depends not only on one’s ability to identify someone else’s emotions but also on one’s capacity to put oneself in the other person’s place and to experience an appropriate emotional response.” — Charles G. Morris‍

“Empathy represents the foundation skill for all the social competencies important for work.”
— Daniel Goleman

“We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.”
— Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Some people think only intellect counts: knowing how to solve problems, knowing how to get by, knowing how to identify an advantage and seize it. But the functions of intellect are insufficient without courage, love, friendship, compassion, and empathy.”
— Dean Koontz

“When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.”
— Stephen Covey

“No one reaches out to you for compassion or empathy so you can teach them how to behave better. They reach out to us because they believe in our capacity to know our darkness well enough to sit in the dark with them.”
Brené Brown

“We need to understand the other side to impact the other side. We become much more effective as humans and leaders when we engage in hearty conversations with those who are different from us, not necessarily to change our opinions, but to build the empathy muscle.”
— Daniel Lubetzky, CEO of Kind

“We need to understand the other side to impact the other side. We become much more effective as humans and leaders when we engage in hearty conversations with those who are different from us, not necessarily to change our opinions, but to build the empathy muscle.” — Daniel Lubetzky, CEO of Kind

Short Quote & Captions

“Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.”
— Mohsin Hamid

“Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.” — Mohsin Hamid

“Men build too many walls and not enough bridges.”
— Joseph Fort Newton

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”
— Ernest Hemingway

“I care. I care about it all. It takes too much energy not to care.”
— Lorraine Hansberry

“I care. I care about it all. It takes too much energy not to care.” — Lorraine Hansberry

“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know when it will be too late.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Empathy is a connection; it’s a ladder out of the shame hole.”
Brené Brown

“Empathy is a choice, and it’s a vulnerable one.”
Brené Brown

“Proactive responding is the ability to listen to the other person’s feelings and empathize without taking responsibility for those feelings.”
— Clive Harman

“Proactive responding is the ability to listen to the other person’s feelings and empathize without taking responsibility for those feelings.” — Clive Harman

Empathy vs. Sympathy Quotes

“Empathy fuels connection. Sympathy drives disconnection.”
Brené Brown

“Empathy fuels connection. Sympathy drives disconnection.” — Brené Brown

The Difference Between Sympathy, Empathy and Compassion:
If someone was stuck in a quagmire:
Sympathy would be: sitting on the side, feeling sorry for them.
Empathy would be: getting into the quagmire with them, and trying to find a way out for both of you.
Compassion would be: keeping your own feet on solid ground and staying in a state of love while you reach out a hand or branch to help them to get out.”
— Odille Remmert

More Quotes

“Empathy comes from the Greek empatheia — em (into) and pathos (feeling) — a penetration, a kind of travel. It suggests you enter another person’s pain as you’d enter another country, through immigration and customs, border crossing by way of query: What grows where you are? What are the laws? What animals graze there?”
— Leslie Jamison

“Empathy comes from the Greek empatheia — em (into) and pathos (feeling) — a penetration, a kind of travel. It suggests you enter another person’s pain as you’d enter another country, through immigration and customs, border crossing by way of query: What grows where you are? What are the laws? What animals graze there?” — Leslie Jamison

“There is absolutely no single aspect of one’s personality that is more important to develop than empathy, which is not a skill at which men typically are asked to excel. I believe empathy is not only the core of art, literature and music, but should also be at the core of society, from ethics to economics.”
— Chris Ware

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
— Leo Buscaglia

“Empathy is really the opposite of spiritual meanness. It’s the capacity to understand that every war is both won and lost. And that someone else’s pain is as meaningful as your own.”
— Barbara Kingsolver

“Empathy is really the opposite of spiritual meanness. It’s the capacity to understand that every war is both won and lost. And that someone else’s pain is as meaningful as your own.” — Barbara Kingsolver

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
— Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

“Empathy has no script. There is no right way or wrong way to do it. It’s simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of ‘You’re not alone.’”
Brené Brown

“The nature of humanity, its essence, is to feel another’s pain as one’s own, and to act to take that pain away. There is a nobility in compassion, a beauty in empathy, a grace in forgiveness.”
— John Connolly

“The nature of humanity, its essence, is to feel another’s pain as one’s own, and to act to take that pain away. There is a nobility in compassion, a beauty in empathy, a grace in forgiveness.” — John Connolly‍

“We use a term called ‘empowerment through empathy.’ And ‘Me Too’ is so powerful, because somebody had said it to me — right? — and it changed the trajectory of my healing process once I heard that.”
— Tarana Burke

“Empathy is a constant awareness of the fact that your concerns are not everyone’s concerns and that your needs are not everyone’s needs.”
— Roman Krznaric, Empathy: Why It Matters, and How to Get It

“Empathy begins with understanding life from another person’s perspective. Nobody has an objective experience of reality. It’s all through our own individual prisms.”
— Sterling K. Brown

“Empathy is choosing to see ourselves in another despite our differences. It’s recognizing that the same humanity — the same desire for meaning, fulfillment and security — exists in each of us, even if it’s expressed uniquely.”
— Dr. Vivek Murthy, United States Surgeon General

“If you share in a heart-felt sorrow, you can lighten the load of a friend. Sometimes facing the burden together can mend two broken hearts in the end.”
— Wes Fesler

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eye for an instant?”
— Henry David Thoreau

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eye for an instant?” — Henry David Thoreau

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February 24, 2023 6:52 AM
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