How to Develop Empathy

By Joan Young

There are 5 Important Skills to Developing Empathy according to Project Happiness

Skill 1. Watch & Listen: What is happening? Ask, “How does the person feel?” “How can

you tell?” Discuss strategies to figure it out. Examples: “What do their words say?

“What does their body language say?” “Does what they say match their body language?”

Skill 2. Remember: Have you felt the same way?

Examples: “When did something like this happen to you?”

Skill 3. Imagine: Imagine how you might feel. Ask the class for examples of what it

might feel like, and how they might act. Examples: “I’d feel like crying; I’d want to hit back; I’d feel very embarrassed.”

Skill 4. Ask: Find out how the person is feeling. Have students provide examples of what they could say to someone. Examples: “Are you OK? What happened to you? How do you feel? How are you doing?”

Skill 5. Show you care. Ask the students how to show someone that you care, and list answers on the board. Examples: “Listen with all your attention,” “Spend time with them,” “Stay with them (don’t leave),” “Say, ‘I’m sorry you’re feeling this way,’” “Encourage them,” “Ask, ‘How can I help?’ ‘Do you need a hug?’ ‘I’m here for you,’” etc.


Sesame Street: Mark Ruffalo: Empathy