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(Ioannidou + 2008)

Empathy and emotional intelligence:What is it really about?

  • Ioannidou F 
  • Konstantikaki V  

"Empathy is the "capacity" to share and understand another’s "state of mind" or emotion. It is often characterized as the ability to “put oneself into another’s shoes”, or in some way experience the outlook or emotions of another being within oneself. Empathy is a powerful communication skill that is often misunderstood and underused.

 Initially, empathy was referred to as “bedside manner”; now, however, authors and educators consider empathetic communication a teachable, learnable skill that has tangible benefits for both clinician and patient: Effective empathetic communication enhances the therapeutic effectiveness of the clinician-patient relationship. Appropriate use of empathy as a communication tool facilitates the clinical interview, increases the efficiency of gathering information, and honours the patient...."

"Empathy should characterise health care professionals and patients communication in order to achieve the desired healing results (Pembroke NF 2007). 

There seems to be some confusion concerning the precise definition of “empathy”. Therefore, analyzing further this concept is considered necessary to clarify its meaning.

Fairbairn (2002) describing the differences between sympathy (sympathy) and empathy (empathy) appointed to the first concept the ability to feel sympathy, and to empathy the ability to put one self into another’s shoes, as a sign of humanity. Sympathy is an emotional reaction, immediate and uncontrolled, which inundates when one person imagines himself in the position someone else is. That is why it can lead to suspension of care or alleviate ethical actions. Empathy on the other hand, is a skill learned or an attitude of life, which can be used to try to come into contact with someone, to communicate and understand others’ experiences or feelings (Halpern J 2003). In addition, a person may be deemed to have more or less developed empathy and to have a tendency to use more this ability-depending on whether he feels responsible towards other persons (Ickes W 1997)."