18 Signs Someone Struggles to Show Empathy

Empathy is incredibly healthy for both personal relationships and society at large. While most of us have some degree of empathy, unfortunately, others have a hard time displaying any empathy at all. If you’re wondering if someone in your life meets this description, you’ve come to the right place. This list reveals 18 signs someone struggles to show empathy.

Frequently Interrupting Others

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Empathetic individuals usually have a gift for active listening. On the other hand, those who struggle to show empathy are likely to have a lack of patience for or interest in others and their perspectives on things. This can cause them to frequently interrupt conversations and overlook what   others are saying.

Difficulty Acknowledging Others’ Feelings

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Naturally, people who lack empathy aren’t very accustomed to the emotions of others. As such, they commonly find it difficult to properly acknowledge the emotional expressions of others, sometimes causing them to shut down others’ experiences and struggle to validate their feelings. For example, as noted by Psych Central, they may call others “too sensitive” simply for expressing their emotions.

Rarely Expresses Gratitude or Appreciation

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When someone struggles to show empathy, they are also more likely to struggle with acknowledging the positive qualities in others or acts of kindness directed toward them. This can cause them to come across as ungrateful and uncaring.

Exhibits Poor Eye Contact During Conversations

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While people can struggle with eye contact for all sorts of reasons, one factor can be a lack of empathy. Eye contact plays an important role in signaling to others that they are present and interested in what the other person is saying. Unempathetic people are less likely to be attuned to this, causing them to make less eye contact with those around them.

Uncomfortable With Emotional Displays

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As you can imagine, unempathetic people don’t do so well with the emotional displays of others. When those around them discuss their feelings, they may appear dismissive or uncomfortable, sometimes attempting to change the topic or remove themselves from the situation.

Offers Solutions Instead of Support

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When you’re feeling emotional, the first thing you want is validation and emotional support from those close to you. However, people who struggle with empathy often fail to understand this. Instead, they will typically prioritize rational solutions, which can cause the people close to them to feel isolated and misunderstood.

Shows Limited Interest in Others’ Lives

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Unempathetic people typically show less interest in the lives of others. For example, they will rarely ask questions about their feelings, experiences, thoughts, or overall well-being. They may also struggle to participate actively in conversations centered on others.

Struggles With Perspective-Taking

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People who struggle with empathy have a hard time stepping into someone else’s shoes. This can cause them to appear stubborn in insisting their opinions and perspectives are the only correct ones, as they struggle to see situations from others’ viewpoints.

Dismissive of Criticism or Feedback

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Unempathetic individuals often don’t take criticism and feedback very well. They may react defensively due to their inability to understand the perspective of the person delivering the feedback. This can prevent them from growing in their personal and professional lives.

Minimal Emotional Response to Others’ Distress

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Most of us will experience a natural emotional response when we witness the distress of others. However, people who struggle with empathy will often show little to no emotional reaction in these circumstances, which often causes them to come across as cold and uncaring.

Avoids Discussing Emotions

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As noted by Verywell Mind, when the subject of emotions arises, unempathetic people have a tendency to withdraw or attempt to change the subject to less emotional matters. This typically stems from them being uncomfortable around emotional matters and unsure of how to handle them.

Reacts Impatiently to Others’ Problems

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When others share their troubles and difficult experiences, those who struggle with empathy may become visibly impatient or irritated. This is because they often have a lack of understanding when it comes to the emotional experiences of others and an unwillingness to delve into the emotional world.

Has a Hard Time Apologizing Genuinely

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People who lack empathy sometimes have a hard time understanding the emotional impact and severity of their mistakes. According to Happier Human, this can lead them to have a hard time apologizing genuinely, causing them to come across as insincere and conditional.

Frequently Misinterprets Social Cues

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Unempathetic people commonly have a difficult time reading the social cues of others and responding appropriately. This can cause them to inadvertently hurt or irritate people around them.

Prioritizes Personal Gain in Relationships

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Because unempathetic people have a hard time valuing the emotional experiences of others, they will typically prioritize themselves and their personal gain. This can be very damaging to those around them, who end up not getting their needs met.

Exhibits a Competitive Nature in Social Settings

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Unempathetic people are more likely to turn normal conversations and social situations into competitions, making others feel overshadowed and unheard. They also have a tendency to undervalue cooperation and inclusivity.

Rarely Expresses Vulnerability

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As you can imagine, people who struggle to show empathy also have a hard time expressing their own vulnerabilities to others. They usually keep their guard up and avoid sharing personal experiences and challenges, as it can feel unsafe to let others in.

Struggles with Accepting Help

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Sometimes, those who struggle with empathy will also struggle with graciously accepting help from others. This often comes from their sense of pride and fear of appearing weak, dependent, or vulnerable.

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