People who lack empathy often use these 9 phrases in a conversation

Conversations can be a revealing mirror, especially when it comes to showing empathy, or a lack of it.

Empathy is all about understanding others’ feelings.

But some people choose to navigate conversations without this crucial emotional tool, often resulting in cold and insensitive interactions.

What’s interesting is that those lacking empathy often use certain phrases in their dialogues.

Phrases that, once you know them, become glaringly obvious.

So let’s dive into the pool of conversation and fish out those 9 phrases often used by people who lack empathy.

Remember, awareness is the first step to understanding and then influencing positive change.

Keep reading to arm yourself with knowledge and contribute to healthier conversations.

1) “I don’t understand why you’re upset”

We’ve all been in a situation where someone’s emotions mystify us.

But for those who regularly lack empathy, this confusion often takes center stage in their conversations.

“I don’t understand why you’re upset” is a phrase that might pop up regularly.

It shows a disregard for the emotional experiences of others.

Instead of trying to understand and connect with the feelings of the person they’re talking to, they dismiss them as confusing or unnecessary.

This phrase can be hurtful and isolating.

It breaks down communication and puts a barrier between the speaker and the listener.

2) “You’re just too sensitive”

Possibly one of the most hurtful phrases to hear, “You’re too sensitive…” is a classic sign of a lack of empathy.

It directly invalidates the other person’s emotions, suggesting that their reaction is the problem, rather than addressing the issue at hand.

This phrase shifts blame onto the individual for feeling hurt or upset, instead of acknowledging their feelings as valid.

It implies that they should simply change their emotional response to fit what the speaker deems appropriate.

Emotional sensitivity is not a flaw.

It’s a part of who we are as individuals. Empathy means respecting and validating each other’s feelings, not labeling them as ‘too much’.

Everyone deserves to be heard and understood without judgment.

3) “I feel”

Empathy is less about what we feel and more about understanding what others are feeling.

For those lacking empathy, conversations often turn towards their own experiences, feelings, or perspectives.

This tendency to self-focus can unintentionally create a barrier to truly understanding the feelings of others.

You’ll often hear phrases that start with “I feel…” or “In my experience…” taking precedence over genuine questions or attempts to understand the other person’s viewpoint.

It’s not always intentional, but this self-centered language is a common trait among those who struggle with empathy.

Empathy isn’t about relating someone else’s experience to our own, but rather understanding and acknowledging their unique perspective and emotions. 

4) “That’s just life”

This phrase holds a special place in my heart. It’s often used by people who lack empathy as a way to trivialize someone else’s struggles or pain.

When you’re opening up about something that hurts, hearing “That’s just life…” can feel like a punch in the gut.

It’s as if your emotional pain is being reduced to an insignificant part of life that one should just accept and move on from.

It’s important to keep in mind that those using this phrase aren’t doing so out of malice.

They simply struggle to empathize with your emotional experience.

5) “It could be worse”

phrases that appear empathetic but actually hide a lack of genuine compassion People who lack empathy often use these 9 phrases in a conversation

Phrases like “It could be worse…” or “At least you’re not…” can often come from a well-meaning place, intending to provide perspective or comfort.

But in reality, these phrases can be a sign of lacking empathy.

When someone is sharing their struggles or pain, hearing “It could be worse…” can feel incredibly dismissive.

It’s as if their pain isn’t significant enough to warrant concern or empathy because others have it worse.

In truth, suffering isn’t a competition.

Every person’s pain and struggles are valid and deserve acknowledgment, not comparison.

Empathy is about meeting people where they are and acknowledging their feelings without judgement or comparison. It’s about saying, “I see your pain, and it matters.”

6) “You’re just looking for attention”

The phrase that perhaps cuts deepest of all is “You’re just looking for attention.”

It’s a direct attack on someone’s character, implying that their emotions are merely a performance or a ploy for attention, rather than genuine feelings.

This phrase is not only dismissive, but it’s also damaging.

It can make the person expressing their feelings feel invalidated, unseen, and unheard.

Everyone deserves to have their emotions respected and acknowledged.

If you hear this phrase, remember that your feelings are valid and real.

Don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise.

7) “That’s your problem, not mine”

Embodying the very essence of a lack of empathy, “That’s your problem, not mine” is a phrase that clearly dismisses the concerns or feelings of others.

It’s a way of saying, “I don’t care about what you’re going through.”

This phrase creates a clear boundary, pushing away the responsibility to connect or empathize with the other person’s situation.

It makes it clear that the speaker is not willing to step into the shoes of the other person or even consider their perspective.

Spotting this phrase in a conversation can be a red flag signaling a lack of empathy and concern.

It’s a sign that the speaker prioritizes their own comfort and convenience over understanding and connecting with others.

8) “Why can’t you just get over it?”

Another phrase that people with a lack of empathy often use is, “Why can’t you just get over it?”

This dismissive statement shows an inability to understand the depth of someone else’s feelings and experiences.

It’s a clear sign that the person saying it is struggling to empathize or offer emotional support.

People process emotions and experiences at different rates and in different ways.

What might seem like a minor issue to one person could be a significant ordeal for another.

When you hear this phrase, know that it’s not about you or your ability to cope.

Instead, it’s a reflection of the speaker’s limited capacity for empathy.

9) “That’s just how I am”

The phrase, ‘That’s just how life is…’, can sometimes serve as a means to dismiss or invalidate someone’s feelings or experiences.

It implies resignation or acceptance of a difficult situation, without acknowledging the pain or struggle it may cause the other person.

This statement not only disregards the feelings of others but also reflects a refusal to change or grow.

It communicates, ‘I don’t care how my actions affect you, and I won’t change.’

This stubborn resistance to growth and understanding indicates a lack of empathy.

Empathy thrives on the willingness to change, grow, and adapt.

Recognizing this refusal to change can help us understand and navigate our interactions with those who lack empathy.

Reflection: The power of empathy

The words we use in conversation hold great power. They can connect us, heal us, and foster deep understanding.

But, they can also isolate, hurt, and reveal a lack of empathy.

Understanding these phrases and their impact can serve as a mirror to our own communication patterns.

Are we truly empathetic in our interactions? Or do we unknowingly use phrases that dismiss or invalidate others’ feelings?

Empathy isn’t just making someone else feel better.

It’s fostering connection, understanding, and respect among us as humans.

It’s a vital skill that can be learned and nurtured.

Let’s remember that everyone is fighting their own battles, visible or not.

So next time you engage in a conversation, strive to listen more than you speak, to understand more than you judge, and to empathize more than you dismiss.

Because in the end, empathy doesn’t just make others feel seen and heard – it makes us better humans too.

Picture of Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley, a London-based writer, is passionate about helping others discover the power of self-improvement. Her approach combines everyday wisdom with practical strategies, shaped by her own journey overcoming personal challenges. Eliza's articles resonate with those seeking to navigate life's complexities with grace and strength.

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