What is the best way to communicate with someone who lacks empathy?

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By: Naveen B

How do you communicate with someone who lacks empathy? What is the best way to communicate with someone who lacks empathy?

As a friend, lover, parent, or caregiver, how do you cope with a loved one who is unable to perceive other people’s feelings? What words can you use, and how do you approach the situation?

One of the biggest challenges related to understanding and communicating with people who lack empathy is that they don’t get it when you try to tell them.

Yes, It’s difficult to connect with people who don’t have empathy. But remember: if they lack empathy, chances are good that they are unaware of it.

Before criticizing their behavior, consider these strategies on how to communicate with someone who lacks empathy.

This article delves into what empathy is, why empathy matters, and how you can help people connect with those who lack it.

At the end of this article, I also share some great resources so you can learn more about how to work with someone who lacks empathy.

Suggested read for you: What is it called when you care too much about what others think?(10 tips on how to not care what people think without hurting them)

What is the best way to communicate with someone who lacks empathy?


Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. 

If someone lacks empathy, they are unable to recognize or identify other people’s emotions, thoughts, and intentions. 

But that shouldn’t stop you continue having difficult conversations if that person is very dear to you.

The best way to communicate with someone who lacks empathy is to be empathetic yourself. This means even if he/she fails to understand your feelings, you should put yourself in their shoes and try to mirror or observe their emotions and understand where they are coming from when they are talking.

Showing that you understand their situation will allow them to be more understanding towards you in return.

So, this helps them to connect with you easily as you are speaking in their language rather than yours. 

Yes, this is a difficult process. However, if you want to develop relationships on a deeper level, especially if you have to live with them for the rest of your life.

Your efforts in being empathetic and understanding others not only helps you to improve your own perspectives but also effortlessly able to see others’ point of view as well. 

In both ways, it will be beneficial only for you to get clarity about everything in life.

What causes lack of empathy in people?

So, why do some people lack empathy? People’s lack of empathy can be caused by a variety of factors, including the following:

  • Genetics,
  • Environment,
  • Disease,
  • Trauma.

Particularly, it may be difficult for people with mental health disorders who lack empathy to connect with others. 

The psychologists discuss a limited number of disorders associated with lack of empathy, such as:

  • Antisocial personality disorders like Sociopathy and psychopathy,
  • Borderline and narcissistic personality disorders,
  • Autistic spectrum disorders, and
  •  Alexithymia.

However, if we consider other scenarios, people who have different backgrounds or beliefs and traumatic experiences can have a high impact on their brain and can cause problems in relationships.

Let’s understand how to be more empathetic in relationships and deal with difficult conversations.

How to be empathetic?

Empathy is the glue that binds us together. It is what allows us to navigate our complex social world. 

There are many theories on how empathy takes place in the brain, but research has shown that it is rooted in affective and cognitive empathy. 

  • Affective empathy, or emotional empathy, is the ability to recognize and share the emotions of another person. 
  • Cognitive empathy, or cognitive perspective-taking, is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand their thoughts and actions.

So, How to be empathetic? In order to be more empathetic, you have to listen intently to what the other person is saying and try not to interrupt them. You should ask questions instead of giving advice and show compassion by doing something nice for them. 

In some cases, If a person struggles with serious mental health issues, you may need to find a professional therapist who can help the other person overcome their lack of empathy.

Also read: Why do people disrespect me: Your deep guide to deal with disrespectful people

10 Best ways to deal with people who have a lack of empathy and communicate your feelings effectively.


Lack of empathy is a key indicator of sociopaths and psychopaths. These people are almost always more intelligent than the average person and they can be very charming when they want to be. They have a lack of concern for other people’s feelings or needs.

Here is the list of 10 tips on how to be empathetic and ways to practice empathy and deal with people who lack empathy.

1. Understand why they are like that

Be gentle with them, try to see things from their perspective, and think about how they might feel.

One of the top and best ways to communicate with someone who lacks empathy is to show them that you are understanding by reflecting their emotions back to them

2. Make the person feel like they are being heard

Let them know that you’re aware that their behavior isn’t appropriate, but don’t get confrontational with them because they won’t like it and will likely escalate the situation into violence.

3. Pay attention to nonverbal clues

Pay attention to how people act. Have eye contact while you are speaking to them. Observe their body language, facial expressions, posture, and gestures.

Today, psychologists argue that nonverbal communication can convey more meaning than verbal communication.

Mirror, match and reflect on how people respond to the situations. So that will realize you really tuned into their worldview.

4. Resist judging others if you want them to do the same to you

Most people are never taught how to be empathetic.

Instead, we are taught that we must judge, or that our actions are based on what is best for ourselves, our families, and society at large. This is completely wrong. 

Being empathetic is very different from being judgmental. Judgmental people think that all people are either good or bad and always deserve what they get. Empathetic people realize that every person is unique.

 Therefore, If someone is behaving in an anti-social way, do not try to judge them quickly. And don’t conclude why they are behaving this way as it may only make them feel worse about themselves and it will not help them change their behavior. 

5. Empathize, don’t sympathize

When you are empathetic it means you are paying attention to the feelings of others.

Listening to and understanding other people’s pain is an essential part of being empathetic. 

But sometimes we don’t know how to help others. This is where being sympathetic can go wrong. 

If we miss out on things that could help someone, we can end up causing more suffering for no reason other than our own ego. 

Being empathetic requires both intention and motivation.

You must intend to bring about positive changes in another person’s life by being kind and respectful, but you must also intend to do this in a way that will build connection and gain trust.

6. Take action to help them

When you’re communicating with someone who lacks empathy, you should understand that their world is different from people who have empathy. 

You should be seeing about the big picture and how their life is likely to change for the better if you could help them by realizing how their behavior is hurting other people.

It is easy to see why people do bad things. Looking back over your life will make you realize at some point time in life we’re all ignorant of each other. Being empathetic to yourself can guide you to take action and help others to avoid making those mistakes in the future.

7. Be vulnerable and share your experience

Helping others can be especially gratifying when they need it. The trouble is that we often avoid doing something that will cause us pain, including pulling ourselves out of a pit of discouragement.

However, there are times in life when we need to be handled with care. We should be vulnerable and let our emotions flow in order to tune with others feelings. The only way to do is to be empathetic.

Generally, people don’t open up their emotions during arguments or stressful times. They open their emotional side after you gained their trust.

So, It will be much easier to help people when you allow yourself to be genuine and vulnerable and share your experience. It will become easy for them to show their inner soft side and help them develop their empathetic side.

8. Have more patience and Be more forgiving

If you still wonder what is the best way to communicate with someone who lacks empathy? Then perhaps, Patience is the perfect answer. 

Try to hold your judgments, frustrations, and hurt; and truly understand them by just listening and responding to them in the way they want to be treated.

No matter how insensible they are in their way of approach to communicating with others. Just understand they are innately built that way. 

So, more often forgive people for their personality. If possible help them to adjust their behavior in social settings.

9. Look for the good in every situation and in every person.

Most people are inherently good. But Sometimes, they are either unaware of how their personality is affected themselves and the people around them.

If they don’t come to their senses that would affect their mental health and make them more prone to chronic diseases, poor health, bad relationships, and so on.

 If you really want to communicate with them by making them better.

So, being empathetic is really about understanding their experiences and seeing the good in every situation and in every person irrespective of how harsh or sensitive a person is.

it’s not about trying to change them or judiciously telling them how to live their lives. But just make them realize how they are affecting other people’s lives.

10. Set boundaries and remove toxic people from your life.

Finally, Be willing to let people know when they’re wrong.

Even after you did everything you could to help them yet they fail to change their behavior. Then you must understand that it is time to set boundaries to save your mental and emotional health. 

Never think twice to remove that kind of toxic person from your life. As highly empathetic people, It’s not easy to hurt people but somehow at some point in time, we all should move on to protect ourselves. 

Final Thoughts

Many people are unable to feel their own emotions, and this is a common obstacle in approaching others. Even in interactions that should be pleasant, we often fail to show genuine concern for the feelings of others. 

In any social situation, it’s important to practice empathy – being able to read another person’s emotions and emotions in themselves.

So, in order to be empathetic with others, you need to be aware that your own emotions. Your own empathy acts are the best way of communication with people who lack it.

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Experienced Psychology and philosophy Writer, self-help and relationship Coach and thought influencer. He has 7 years of experience in Personal development industry. His expertise as a self-help and relationship Coach has been highlighted through his articles in medium and substack to name a few. To be updated with his latest work, connect with him by following his social media accounts.

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