If someone uses these 12 phrases they’re showing a lack of empathy

It can be hurtful to not be received with compassion when you most need it. 

There are times when you are sharing what’s on your mind and heart, and the person you’re being vulnerable with doesn’t seem to care. 

Well, empathy is fundamental to creating lasting connections, and when it’s not offered, it can be irreparably damaging to a relationship. 

So what happens when you encounter people like this?

From dismissive comments to straight-up judgments, we’ll delve into the 12 phrases that indicate a lack of understanding, empathy, and compassion when you’re speaking to someone.

Let’s dive right in:

1) “I don’t get what the problem is.”

Have you just explained what the problem is, but they respond that they don’t get what the problem is? 

The real problem is, that the person you’re speaking to lacks understanding!

What they’re really saying is, “That’s not a problem to me”. 

Which is fine, but choosing to respond in this way is blatantly dismissive of the other person’s feelings and how they might differ from your own. 

2) “You’re being too sensitive.”

Ah, the classic ‘emotions are too sensitive’ judgment. 

In a world where we are taught to swallow our feelings, keep them to ourselves, and put on a tough front; many people have internalized this belief that having feelings is being too sensitive, and that is negative. 

The kindest, most empathetic thing one can do in a situation like this is try to understand that their feelings are real and treat them as such, rather than justifying feelings on their behalf. 

But instead, labeling the feelings as sensitivity is an offhand way to dismiss their own unwillingness to delve into the acknowledgment of emotions. 

3) “You need to toughen up.”

This one comes from a similar intention to the previous phrase. 

The idea that emotions and expressing them come from weakness, and require “toughening up” is unhealthy and leads to internalized pain, suffering, and even depression. 

It’s likely that the person who says this phrase was taught, consciously or subconsciously to do exactly this with their own feelings.

They’re most likely uncomfortable with their own emotions in some way and are projecting their internal rejection of emotions upon anyone else who expresses them. 

4) “I can’t be bothered.”

You can’t get more blatantly lacking in empathy than an, “I can’t be bothered” or “I don’t care”. 

It’s self-explanatory: they have no empathy to give to you or this situation.

It’s one of the most callous and harsh phrases to receive, but at least you know how they really feel about you. 

Invest your energy in someone who does care!

5) “Why are you always so negative?”

I find this to be an interesting one. 

It speaks to a tendency towards false ‘positivity’ which involves not addressing feelings of upset by ignoring or dismissing them. 

In my experience, ignoring ‘negative’ feelings never leads to stronger connections, more clarity, or empathy. 

That is if you even want to go so far as labeling feelings as ‘positive’ or ‘negative’, which are really just judgments for things that aren’t inherently good or bad. 

Integrating feelings of upset, sadness, or anger is vital to creating a holistic outlook of gratitude and growth.

6) “I don’t have time for this/ your problems.”

If someone doesn’t have time for your feelings or problems, they clearly don’t have empathy for you. 

Time can always be made if you truly care about someone, even if it’s a small meaningful message of support.

Enough said!

7) “Life’s not fair, get used to it.”

phrases to avoid if you want to sound like a strong and confident person 3 If someone uses these 12 phrases they’re showing a lack of empathy

Life isn’t fair. It’s true.

But the unfairness of life is always made better with supportive friends and people who care about you, and who make space for your expression.

Instead of drilling the unfairness of life in, someone with empathy would offer a consoling shoulder to cry on or a listening ear. 

So if they use this phrase – they’re showing a lack of empathy. 

8) “You’re being so dramatic.”

This phrase comes across as judgmental and will almost never work to improve a connection.

In fact, it will lead to making the person expressing their feelings feel that they should tone down or minimize their feelings completely. 

Or, it will make them feel dismissed, misunderstood, and generally not empathized with. 

The person who says this phrase most likely lacks this awareness and also lacks the compassion to approach healthy communication.

9) “Stop making everything about you.”

Unless the speaker is talking to a narcissist, in which case this phrase might apply, this is a phrase that lacks empathy. 

Oftentimes, the person saying this could be a narcissist who is uncomfortable with giving attention to someone else. 

By being unwilling to put their focus on listening to this person and encouraging them to share or express their feelings, they are actually making everything about themselves at the same time. 

10) “Just get over it.”

“Just get over it” is a phrase you’ll hear people who lack empathy use often

It’s because they themselves aren’t invested in the issue, nor in the other person’s emotional well-being.

So they assume it’s just as easy for the other person to simply get over it or move on. 

However, being this detached and dismissive requires a real lack of ability to tune into someone else’s feelings. 

11) “Other people have it worse than you.”

Yes, there will always be people who have it better or worse than you. 

We live on a planet with nearly 8 billion people!

So to diminish someone’s issues as inconsequential because someone else always has it worse would mean that nothing matters in life, including celebrations, achievements, failures, loss, and so on. 

And that’s a sad outlook to have. 

Anyway, you get it. It’s just not an empathetic thing to say. 

12) “You’re making a big deal out of nothing.”

Last but not least:

Making something out of nothing, making a mountain out of a molehill, or making a big deal out of nothing. 

We’ve heard them all.

The reason this phrase shows a great lack of empathy is threefold. 

Firstly, it diminishes the issue of the person to ‘nothing’, at least in their opinion.

Secondly, it labels their expression of this issue as a ‘big deal’ rather than an attempt to communicate and find a connection. 

And third, it uses a, “You” statement to blame the person for “making” this situation deliberately inconvenient to the speaker. 

All of these three tactics in conjunction will probably lead to an intensified conflict, rather than a solution that can only be found with empathy. 

Final thoughts 

There you have it, 12 phrases that show a lack of empathy. 

There are many, many more than these 12 phrases you may experience that will be similar to these or imply similar things.  

The important thing is to notice any blame-shifting, judgments about feelings, or trivialization of the issue. 

If you notice someone using these regularly, it’s possible that the person has a lack of empathy for you, which means they probably don’t care about you much in a genuine sense. 

Consider sharing this with them. If the situation doesn’t improve, contemplate whether they’re adding healthy value to your life.

Everyone deserves to be surrounded by people who genuinely want them to be emotionally heard, supported, and cared for, and are willing to offer healthy communication to amplify that. 

Picture of Shela Riva

Shela Riva

Shela Riva is a Thai-Swiss freelance writer, artist, energy mentor and co-creator of Jaiyen Eco Resort, a creative retreat space in Thailand. She is deeply passionate about our incredible ability to transform and is dedicated to helping each person realize the power within themselves, whether through her writing, empowering custom art pieces, one-on-one work or in-person retreats.

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