If someone uses these 12 phrases, they lack empathy and understanding

Have you ever talked to someone and felt like they just didn’t get you? We all have.

Being understood is a big part of any conversation. Some people are really good at this – they can understand and feel what you’re going through.

This is called empathy.

But not everyone is good at it..

In this article, I’ll reveal 12 things people say that might show they’re not very empathetic. 

1. “I don’t see why that’s such a big deal.”

This phrase is a classic example of someone lacking empathy.

When someone says, “I don’t see why that’s such a big deal,” they’re dismissing the other person’s feelings or experience.

They might not mean to, but in doing so, they’re showing that they can’t (or don’t want to) understand why the situation might be important or difficult for the other person. 

2. “You’re too sensitive.”

If you’ve ever opened up to someone about your feelings only to be met with this phrase, you’d know how hurtful it can be.

This is another common phrase used by those lacking empathy.

By telling someone that they’re “too sensitive,” they’re essentially saying that their reaction or feelings are wrong or exaggerated.

The truth is, everyone has a right to their feelings and how they express them.

No one should be made to feel guilty or wrong for this.

3. “That’s never happened to me, so it can’t be that bad.”

I remember hearing this phrase from a friend once when I was dealing with a particularly challenging situation at work.

I was under a lot of stress and feeling incredibly overwhelmed.

When I confided in my friend about it, hoping for a bit of understanding, they responded with, “That’s never happened to me, so it can’t be that bad.”

The phrase stung. It was as if my struggle was being minimized because it wasn’t part of their personal experience.

Just because someone hasn’t experienced something firsthand doesn’t mean they can’t empathize with it or understand that it might be difficult for others.

Real empathy means being able to put yourself in another person’s shoes, even if you haven’t walked the same path.

4. “Just get over it.”

This phrase is not only dismissive but also lacks understanding and compassion.

When someone is going through a tough time, telling them to “just get over it” is far from helpful.

It not only invalidates their feelings, but it also suggests that they should simply move on without processing or dealing with their emotions.

According to psychologists, telling someone to “just get over it” can actually prolong their emotional distress.

So, next time you’re tempted to use this phrase, pause and choose empathy instead!

5. “Everything happens for a reason.”

This phrase might seem comforting or even wise at first glance.

After all, it’s often used with good intentions, perhaps to help someone find a silver lining in a difficult situation.

However, it can also be a sign of lack of empathy.

Imagine you’re going through a tough time, and someone tells you, “everything happens for a reason.” It doesn’t acknowledge your pain, does it? It doesn’t allow space for your feelings of sadness, anger, or confusion.

Instead, it bypasses these feelings and rushes to find a reason or a lesson.

6. “It could be worse.”

A while back, I remember sharing my concerns over losing my job due to company-wide layoffs. I was anxious, worried about the future, and feeling down. And a friend responded with, “It could be worse.”

While they probably meant to help me see the bigger picture or count my blessings, it didn’t feel comforting.

In fact, it felt like my feelings were being downplayed and that my situation wasn’t ‘bad enough’ to warrant concern.

A more empathetic response might have said: “I’m really sorry to hear that you’re going through this. It sounds really tough.”

7. “Well, at least you…”

Let’s be real here.

When someone starts a sentence with “Well, at least you…”, it’s likely not going to end well. This phrase is often used to downplay someone’s struggles by comparing them to others’ or to hypothetical ‘worse’ situations.

Imagine you’ve had a rough day, and you’re sharing it with a friend. You don’t want to hear “Well, at least you have a job.” or “Well, at least you’re healthy.” You want your feelings acknowledged, not brushed off because someone else has it worse.

We all have our own battles and just because someone else is fighting a dragon doesn’t make your wolf any less scary. 

8. “Why don’t you just…”

This phrase might sound harmless, but it’s often a sign of lack of empathy.

It implies that there’s an easy solution that the person is somehow missing or ignoring. It disregards the complexity of their feelings or the situation they’re in.

According to a study, people who tend to offer solutions without being asked are often perceived as less empathetic.

That’s because empathy isn’t about fixing problems; it’s about understanding and sharing someone else’s feelings. 

9. “You always…” or “You never…”

A few years ago, I was in a heated argument with a friend. In the heat of the moment, they said, “You never listen to me.”

I remember feeling taken aback because I always made an effort to lend an ear when they needed it.

Phrases that start with “You always…” or “You never…” can be hurtful and lack empathy. They generalize one behavior and make it seem like a constant, which is rarely fair or accurate.

Instead of helping to resolve the issue at hand, it can make the other person feel attacked and defensive.

10. “I know exactly how you feel.”

This one might raise eyebrows. After all, isn’t this what empathy is all about – understanding how someone else feels?

But here’s the raw truth: No matter how similar our experiences might be, we can’t ever truly know exactly how another person feels.

Each of us is unique, with our own set of emotions, experiences, and ways of dealing with things.

When we say, “I know exactly how you feel,” we’re assuming a lot about the other person’s experience. 

11. “You should feel lucky that…”

Let’s cut to the chase – telling someone how they should feel is a big no-no.

It’s dismissive and lacks understanding. We don’t get to decide what someone else should feel thankful for or happy about.

When we try to dictate someone else’s feelings, we’re not being empathetic – we’re projecting our own feelings and perspectives onto them.

12. “That’s just life.”

This phrase might be honest, but it’s far from empathetic.

Yes, life can be tough and unfair at times – but that doesn’t mean we should just accept pain and hardship without feeling allowed to express our emotions.

When we tell someone “That’s just life,” it feels like we’re saying their pain is insignificant or unavoidable and that they should just deal with it.

It dismisses their feelings and struggles as something that everyone goes through.

Picture of Brendan Brown

Brendan Brown

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