Empathy, Apathy & Antipathy

Let’s explore the differences between empathy, apathy, and antipathy. What role do they play in leadership?


Empathy is an ability that allows us to put ourselves in another person’s shoes. This connection can be done if there is clarity of the feelings, behavior/action and experience/context of what the other person is going through.


As far as apathy goes, some authors like Kenneth Woods say it may translate to passive aggression. It may also be an accumulation of anger in some cases.

As a leader, it is critical to be aware of what activity and which person on your team do you lack emotions with? This can be a result of an accumulation of anger or passive-aggressive behavior. What impact does this attitude have with the rest of the team?


As a leader, how often do we do activities we dislike or have antipathy with? Where does this feeling come from? Most of the time, it has to do with the perception that we are not skilled to do the task, (learn more here). This may mean either the objective is too far away from our skill set or we are not equipped enough to achieve the desired outcome.

Empathy, Sympathy, Apathy and Antipathy can describe our attitude towards certain activities or people. Knowing each of the concepts can help us transform as a leader.

To learn more, check out the Re-Defining Empathy Nano Learning Series.

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