Sympathy Vs. Empathy: These Woodland Critters Teach Us The Difference



The meaning of sympathy vs. empathy: an agelong debate. In this charming animated video by the RSA, three woodland creatures walk us through these varying definitions. Empathy, the video says, is about connection. Sympathy, the animation argues, is often rooted in the vague offering of a silver lining in a situation, one that more often provokes disconnection than it does provide solace.

The interactions between a bear, fox, and goat in the video explain what it means to truly understand someone's pain. They show the importance of processing another's feelings, rather than simply commenting on them. As showcased by the smug goat, a response does not offer the connection a person in pain needs. It often comes off as patronizing and condescending. The sweet, big bear shows, by offering a big bear hug to the sad fox, that a person must connect with an emotion within themself to fully understand that same emotion in someone else.

No matter the method of comfort we may offer one another, this sweet little short teaches us that whether through sympathy or empathy, all we really need is a friend to be there.