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The 11 signs of genuine empathy that can’t be faked

The main trait - and admirable quality - of empathetic people is that they care in a natural and true way for the well-being of others.

genuine empathy

If they do not fall into a state of overwhelm and emotional overload that can isolate them and make them irritable, because of the “sponge” effect of empathy, empaths are kind, positive and sensitive to others’ feelings.

These qualities make empaths open to the world, altruistic, friendly, caring, compassionate and easy to connect with because they take a lot upon themselves to help and support you emotionally.

On the other hand, there are people who take advantage of this attractive personality and capitalize on these qualities for their own benefit, pretending to show empathy when they do not have any. But there are signs that are unmistakable and that will help you recognize an empathetic person from one who pretends and mimes empathy.

What are the signs of empathy that cannot be faked?

In this article, we'll look at 9 signs of true empathy and how to tell real empaths from fake ones.

1) Empathetic people actively listen

One of the first signs of true empathy is when someone actively listens to you during a conversation.

There is a significant difference between “listening actively” and “listening”. Listening can quite simply, and often even, mean “hearing”, in other words there is no real engagement in the action of listening.

On the other hand, when someone is actively listening, it means that they are completely present in the discussion, and that they are really listening to what you are saying. There is no pretense, complacency or politeness, it is an active commitment.

When empaths listen to you, they do so because they want to understand you and know what you want to communicate to them. They are concerned about your life and they sincerely care about your well-being.

They want to know the reasons for your struggles, your pain, your sadness, your anger, but also are the first to celebrate, alongside you, your successes and your joys. Whatever you feel, they want to be able to see things from your point of view.

So how do you know if someone is actively listening to you or not?

Well, there are a few things to look out for that don't lie. Someone who actively listens will:

  • Maintain eye contact

  • Use open body language (e.g. nodding, smiling, frowning, leaning forward)

  • Refrain from interrupting you

  • Don't turn the conversation back to them.

  • Won't check their phone or watch TV while you're talking to them

  • Cut the conversation to do something else (more important and more interesting - in their eyes)

  • Having a sudden “urge” to cut your conversation short.

All these actions or non-actions help empaths understand where you are coming from and put themselves in your shoes, and above all they prove their active presence in the conversation. On the other hand, when someone feigns empathy you will have a completely different scenario, and you will see them doing everything I just listed but in the opposite direction.

2) They ask questions

Another thing a truly empathetic person will do when actively listening is ask questions, but not just any questions. Empaths may want to clarify what you are saying or find out if they understood correctly. They may also try to delve deeper into the subject by asking specific questions about your problem or state of mind. This will help them better understand your situation. And this way, they don't draw wrong conclusions or misinterpret the situation.

They'll ask you things like, "What happened next?" » "How did that make you feel?" or “Could you explain this part again?”. This helps them to fully understand things and have a more precise view of the problem you are facing.

While a true empath is impartial, a false empath will make their own judgment through their questions.

A fake empath might say, “How could you do that? » “What were you thinking?” » “Did you think you were going to get away with this?” »

Do you see the difference?

3) They are non-judgmental

Because an empathetic person wants to understand your point of view and your situation, they will therefore eliminate judgment in their equation, and will refrain from giving their opinion if you have not asked them. They also won't try to make you feel embarrassed or uncomfortable, because of your opinions, decisions, or behavior, which is what false empaths might do!

The good thing about empathetic people is that they understand that everything is complex and that each person has a unique journey that brought them to this point or situation. Even if this path differs from theirs, that does not make that person's path irrational or a mistake. Even if a person's story may seem confusing, complicated, an empath will not judge them. They are aware that we are all different, with opposing perspectives, reactions, and even opinions, but that other people's outcomes or their approach to the situation are no less important and valid.

Instead, an empath will go the extra mile to try to see things through the other person's lens, and will do anything to put themselves in their shoes.

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4) Empathetic people spot nonverbal cues

A person with true empathy does not need to be told in words when something is wrong. They know.

It's all in body language.

Empaths can tell when someone is sad, upset, angry, etc. by the way that person acts.

They detect and recognize even the most subtle movements or changes... a slight frown, the corner of the mouth drooping, a shift in their position, etc... They observe every detail and understand. These little non-verbal cues are crucial information for an empath, whereas someone who is pretending will not notice them. And it’s these details that make the difference!

For example, as I said above, they will notice when someone is upset by the way they purse their lips, keep their eyes on the floor, or move around. A false empath will not observe these small details.

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5) They use open body language

Body language is difficult to fake, yet it is very important because it represents more than 60 to 65% of communication.

One of the prime signs of true empathy is when someone uses open body language in their mode of communication.

Open body language can be:
  • Uncross your arms and legs

  • Lean forward

  • When sitting or standing, stand up straight

  • Be facing you (face, body and feet)

  • Coming slightly closer to you

  • Put their hand on your hand, on your arm

  • Looking at you with interest

Because people with true empathy are kind and care about others, their body language reflects this.

On the other hand, a so-called empath will have a closed behavior. They can't pretend to be open. Even if they try to mimic it, they will betray themselves because their naturalness will come back at a gallop - body language being instinctive.

6) Empathetic people are not afraid to be vulnerable

…which in parentheses can sometimes lead to setbacks for them, but that is another subject.

Another sign of true empathy, which cannot be faked, is that empathetic people are not afraid to be vulnerable. Empaths are sensitive people (in the majority of cases, highly sensitive people), and because they feel things deeply, they are not afraid to show their emotions. It’s one of the qualities that makes them so authentic.

They also understand that vulnerability is a two-way street. This means that they will share their experiences if they have had a similar one. This will allow them to relate honestly to the pain others are experiencing. They will not hesitate to confide their own mistakes to you if they see you taking a wrong path in order to get closer to you, and to share their own mistakes so that you do not repeat them.

A fake empath may feign vulnerability to fulfill their own agenda, whether it's to turn the conversation on them or to get you to feel sorry for them.

If, for example, you openly confide in a fake empath about the difficult times you are going through, they may turn the conversation towards them. So your own problems are swept under the rug, and probably you will even want to console them. You may also feel guilty for burdening and bothering them with your problems.

7) Empathetic people always offer emotional support

An empathetic person cannot feel good when another is struggling.

As empaths feel the positive emotions of others as much as the negative ones, in the presence of a person who is going through a bad time, they will not be comfortable either. They will do everything to help the person who is not feeling well. Even if it’s not much, the least they can do is be supportive.

They will offer words of encouragement such as “You will see, things will get better”, “Be patient with yourself and take things one step at a time”, “I am here for you. »

They will reassure and encourage you that “you are doing your best” and, of course, they will offer help.

If they cannot be present or really active, they will check in regularly and remind you that they are available to you at any time if you need anything.

On the other hand, a false empath will be more inclined to tell you precisely what you need to do, and give you a (tight) time interval where you can disturb him, beyond which it is out of the question. It doesn't matter if their "advice" is what works best for you, it doesn't matter if you're at your worst in the middle of the night.

They want you to know that they know everything, and therefore you should do what they tell you!

8) They follow up

When an empath offers emotional support, their offer doesn't just end after the previous conversation. They will follow up by contacting you regularly.

They want to make sure you are okay and remind you that they are there if you need help.

They will not abandon you, and will continue to check in on you and be by your side, until they know that you are okay, and that any negative feelings you had are gone.

As you can imagine, this is not the case for a fake empathetic person.

They may act like they care about you, shout it loud and clear, but there will be no follow through on their words or promises.

In fact, don't be surprised if they don't even bring up your previous conversation the next time you see them!

Even though they may have channeled their best impression of an empathetic person during your conversation/visit/meeting, if they are impostors, they won't continue, there will be no follow-up, their caring being extremely short-lived.

9) They do everything they can to make a positive difference

I think empaths have a mission to “make a difference”, but often they are not aware of it. It’s innate!

Empathetic people like to help others and spread a little positivity, even when they aren't necessarily in the best place themselves. They will put aside their problems to bring a smile into the day and lives of others. So it’s no surprise that empaths devote a lot of time and energy to making a positive impact.

People with true empathy do not need to be encouraged to help others. They will do it because that is who they are.

For example, if one of their colleagues has lost a loved one, they will be “present” to support the one who is grieving. They will send a “Sorry for your loss” card that they will have the whole collective sign, they will offer a box of chocolates or flowers, as a sign of recognition, presence and regret.

Empaths are often the ones who raise money for a charity they care about. Or those who make donations or volunteer, rallying as many people as possible to help others - all this to be able to make a difference around them, and in the world in general. And they do not do this “to do well” in the eyes of others, because very often their benefits are distributed anonymously.

A person feigning empathy can talk, boast, announce donation figures, shout out their actions loudly if helping does not cost them much, or if the money is meaningless for them because of their wealth.

(We should not brag about our good deeds.)

On the other hand, those who have more modest means will talk a lot, but when it comes to actions, it will be another story, and they will certainly not pierce their wallets to give a penny or their time to those in need.

A fake empath can, for example, act as if they support a cause, when their actions say the opposite!

10. They Love Telling People That They’re Empaths

I don’t need to tell you that being empathetic is indeed an admirable trait.

But truly empathetic people will never brag about it, announce it out loud whenever the occasion comes up because they don’t like to show off, and even less to be put in a box with a label on it.

Being empathetic is just a part of who they are.

So when you hear someone telling how much of an “empath” they are, and all the qualities or gifts that come with this trait, don’t jump on too fast to congratulate them. Empaths don’t need congratulations, they didn’t do anything to be empathetic, they were born like that.

So whenever someone talks too much and brags about their empathy, chances are they’re not really empathetic at all.

11. They can’t take “no” for an answer

The worst thing you can do with someone faking empathy? Tell them that they’re wrong. Try!

If you tell a false empath that they are wrong, that they are making false assumptions about you or anyone else, they will explode. He will try by a + b to show you the opposite, while an empathetic person will remain silent or will try to explain his point of view to you, but in all cases will not give you an argument like: “I know better because I have special powers that you don’t have.”

A so-called self-proclaimed (fake) empath will insist that you just don't understand, because you haven't worked on yourself enough, and that you shouldn't contradict someone who has their supernatural abilities.

A true empaths, as we saw earlier, will always try to understand your point of view and accept you just the way you are, embracing every person's uniqueness.

Take away

People with true empathy are sensitive and genuinely care about others. They show this in different ways, by actively listening, offering emotional support, and opening up to vulnerability. But what really sets them apart is that they are consistent in their actions.

Whether through their body language, their behavior or through their periodic check-ins, they never fail to show you how much they care about you, and that your well-being matters to them.

They will do what they can to help the people around them, thereby having a positive impact on those they touch.

I’m going to conclude this post with a dedication to you beautiful souls… empaths...

Dear empaths, the following text is for you: “I see you.”

“I see you.

You who cannot sleep at night because your mind does not know peace when you see the suffering of others and the unconsciousness of some.

You who always seek beauty in the darkness spread by those who have lost contact with their soul.

You who love people and see in them the mirror of yourself instead of fearing and rejecting them.

You who play the same sad songs over and over to feel every ounce of your emotions.

You who wake up every day smiling for the sake of others, and do everything so that no one worries about you.

I see you.

You who have trouble getting up some mornings but who continue to fight every day.

You who have more bad days than good days. I saw you stand up and try to be the best version of yourself, even when your heart was crying, even when many times you wanted to stop.

I hear your dreams of making the world a better place. I hear your cries against injustice. But I also see you losing hope and suffering from the blindness and unconsciousness of others.

You the hopeless romantic, you the empath, you the courageous fighter, you who try not to bother, you who forgive, you who give everyone a chance,

I see you.

I saw you dragging yourself towards a hypothetical light even though it was dark around you.

You, who are always there for others, have more downs than ups, but accept life with all its spectrum of emotions.

Now it's time to see you like we all see you. You are more than enough. Your depth and sensitivity do not make you difficult to love. They make you even more worthy of love. And it all starts with the love that you should give to yourself. So give yourself a hug, you deserve it so much. You no longer have anything to prove to anyone. You no longer need to sacrifice yourself for others. You have planted so many seeds around you, let others take care of them. You no longer need to carry those liters of water to make them germinate and flower. Let those you have supported and helped take care of the gifts you have given them.

Now take care of your own garden. Pull out the weeds and rejoice in your years of planting hope, generosity and love, to beautify your environment and that of others. This garden is yours!

Now imagine... If every person you've ever touched in your life lit a candle, it would create a beautiful glittering web around the world. For every word of hope, for every smile of compassion, for the silence you kept to listen to them, for your touch on their arm to make them feel loved, for the space you defended to keep them in security, to inspire them, to make them laugh... For all this and much more, you illuminated their lives for a second, a day, a few years, a lifetime! You are much more than you think. You have made a difference in so many lives. You've done more than you think

Now try to imagine the glowing network on the world map. You lit it!

I see you, but now look at you!"


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