100+ Empathy Quotes to Foster Understanding and Compassion

Empathy strengthens the fabric of human experience, imbuing it with understanding, compassion, and care. Without it, our relationships suffer and the bridges between us crumble. Empathy is the ability to acknowledge and understand what another person is going through. It’s a way of saying, “I see you. I hear you.” Empathy leads to compassion, which can be understood as empathy in action.

In this article, we highlight over 100 empathy quotes to enhance understanding and compassion. These nuggets of wisdom are intended to unlock the love that lives within each of us. Whether your intention is to heal your relationships, open your heart to others, or cultivate a more peaceful world, you’ve landed in the right place. May these quotes on empathy inspire and awaken your loving, beating heart.

100 Empathy Quotes

100+ Quotes on Empathy, Compassion, and Understanding

  • "Empathy is simply listening, holding space, withholding judgement, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of 'You're not alone.'" - Brené Brown
  • "Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another." - Alfred Adler
  • “The heart is like a garden. It can grow compassion or fear, resentment or love. What seeds will you plant there?” - Jack Kornfield
  • “Look at other people and ask yourself if you are really seeing them or just your thoughts about them.” - Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • "Empathy is the most mysterious transaction that the human soul can have, and it's accessible to all of us, but we have to give ourselves the opportunity to identify, to plunge ourselves in a story where we see the world from the bottom up or through another's eyes or heart." - Sue Monk Kidd
  • "The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy." - Meryl Streep
  • "Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself." - Mohsin Hamid
  • "Empathy begins with understanding life from another person's perspective." - John Maxwell
  • "Empathy is the antidote to shame." - Dr. Brené Brown
  • “Empathy is, in fact, an ideal that has the power both to transform our own lives and to bring about fundamental social change. Empathy can create a revolution. Not one of those old-fashioned revolutions based on new laws, institutions, or governments but something much more radical: a revolution of human relationships.” - Roman Krznaric
  • "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." - Mahatma Gandhi
  • “It is through weakness and vulnerability that most of us learn empathy and compassion and discover our soul.” - Desmond Tutu
  • "The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention." - Thich Nhat Hanh
  • "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." - Stephen R. Covey
  • "Compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength." - Dalai Lama
  • "Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see." - Mark Twain
  • “When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with one another - and ourselves.” - Jack Kornfield
  • “Empathy comes from the Greek empatheia – em (into) and pathos (feeling) – a penetration, a kind of travel. It suggests you enter another person’s pain as you’d enter another country, through immigration and customs, border crossing by way of query: What grows where you are? What are the laws? What animals graze there?” - Leslie Jamison
  • "Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world." - Barack Obama
  • "Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive." - Dalai Lama
  • “How can we expand our empathic potential? We may well be wired for empathy, but we still need to think about how we are going to bring our circuits to life.” - Roman Krznaric
  • “Empathy is a choice, and it’s a vulnerable one.” - Brené Brown
  • "Empathy is the art of stepping imaginatively into the shoes of another person, understanding their feelings and perspectives, and using that understanding to guide your actions." - Barack Obama
  • "When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That's when you can get more creative in solving problems." - Stephen Covey
  • "Empathy isn’t just something that happens to us—a meteor shower of synapses firing across the brain—it’s also a choice we make: to pay attention, to extend ourselves." - Leslie Jamison
  • "Empathy is the universal solvent. Any problem immersed in empathy becomes soluble." - Simon Baron-Cohen
  • “Empathy is a constant awareness of the fact that your concerns are not everyone’s concerns and that your needs are not everyone’s needs.” - Roman Krznaric
  • "Empathy is the language of the heart." - Unknown
  • "Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a relationship between equals." - Pema Chödrön
  • “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” - Dalai Lama
  • “Compassion is not at all weak. It is the strength that arises out of seeing the true nature of suffering in the world. Compassion allows us to bear witness to that suffering, whether it is in ourselves or others, without fear; it allows us to name injustice without hesitation, and to act strongly, with all the skill at our disposal.” - Sharon Salzberg
  • “Kindness and a good heart form the underlying foundation for our success in this life, our progress on the spiritual path, and our fulfillment of our ultimate aspiration: the attainment of full enlightenment.” - Dalai Lama
  • “A world without empathy is a world that is dead to others—and if we are dead to others, we are dead to ourselves. The sharing of another’s pain can take us past the narrow canyon of selfish disregard, and even cruelty, and into the larger, more expansive landscape of wisdom and compassion.” - Joan Halifax
  • “By peace we mean the capacity to transform conflicts with empathy, without violence, and creatively – a never-ending process.” - John Galtung
  • "Traits like humility, courage, and empathy are easily overlooked - but it's immensely important to find them in your closest relationships.” - Laura Linney
  • "A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed." - Desmond Tutu
  • “This capacity for empathy leads to a genuine encounter – we have to progress toward this culture of encounter – in which heart speaks to heart.” - Pope Francis
  • “The point is to try to develop the scope of our empathy in such a way that we can extend it to any form of life with the capacity to feel pain and experience happiness. It is a matter of recognizing living organisms as sentient, and therefore subject to pain and capable of happiness.” - Dalai Lama
  • “Empathy is the fuel that powers acts of kindness and compassion.” - Karen Armstrong
  • “If you find yourself saying 'But I'm just being honest', chances are you've just been unkind. Honesty doesn't heal. Empathy does.” - Dan Waldschmidt
  • “Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” - Henry David Thoreau
  • “Love is not without its flaws. The stronger the love, the more it tests you. Compassion and empathy will make true love persist.” - Khalil Gibran
  • “Empathy begins with understanding life from another person’s perspective. Nobody has an objective experience of reality. It’s all through our own individual prisms.” - Sterling K. Brown
  • “Whenever you are about to find fault with someone, ask yourself the following question: What fault of mine most nearly resembles the one I am about to criticize?” - Marcus Aurelius
  • “I think we all have empathy. We may not have enough courage to display it.” - Maya Angelou
  • “Nor can there be authentic dialogue unless we are capable of opening our minds and hearts, in empathy and sincere receptivity, to those with whom we speak.” - Pope Francis
  • "Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand." - Karl Menninger
  • “Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” - Pema Chödrön
  • “Empathy is a respectful understanding of what others are experiencing. We often have a strong urge to give advice or reassurance and to explain our own position or feeling. Empathy, however, calls upon us to empty our mind and listen to others with our whole being.” - Marshall B. Rosenberg
  • “Empathy represents the foundation skill for all the social competencies important for work.” - Daniel Goleman
  • “Imagining what it is like to be someone other than yourself is at the core of our humanity. It is the essence of compassion and the beginning of morality.” - Ian McEwan
  • “Be the reason someone feels welcome, seen, heard, valued, loved, and supported.” - Unknown
  • “Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquillity and happiness we all seek.” - Dalai Lama
  • “You can only understand people if you feel them in yourself.” - John Steinbeck
  • "Empathy is the compass we need to navigate the turbulent waters of our times." - Unknown
  • "No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." - Aesop
  • "Empathy is the starting point for creating a community and taking action. It's the impetus for creating change." - Max Carver
  • “The word 'heart' can refer to an emotional bond between people, and also to the precious faculty of empathy, an 'open heart', which means sharing the feelings of another and includes an outflow of goodwill towards our fellow humans and all life forms. This, of course, is what the Dalai Lama refers to when he says "my religion is kindness", and is closely related to the ability to feel compassion.” - Eckhart Tolle
  • “When you start to develop your powers of empathy and imagination, the whole world opens up to you.” - Susan Sarandon
  • "Empathy is the greatest virtue. From it, all virtues flow." - Eric Zorn
  • "Empathy is about standing in someone else's shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place." - Daniel H. Pink
  • "Empathy is the medicine the world needs." - Unknown
  • "It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and others." - Dalai Lama
  • “Sometimes you get what you want. Other times, you get a lesson in patience, timing, alignment, empathy, compassion, faith, perseverance, resilience, humility, trust, meaning, awareness, resistance, purpose, clarity, grief, beauty, and life. Either way, you win.” - Brianna Wiest
  • ”With empathy, I'm fully with them, and not full of them - that's sympathy.” - Marshall B. Rosenberg
  • “The words are not empathy, the connection is empathy.” - Marshall B. Rosenberg
  • “People are not as beautiful as they look and talk. They are only as beautiful as they love, as they care, as they share.” - Ritu Ghatourey
  • “Empathy is the only human superpower-it can shrink distance, cut through social and power hierarchies, transcend differences, and provoke political and social change.” - Elizabeth Thomas
  • "Reducing the economic gap may be impossible without also addressing the gap in empathy." - Daniel Goleman
  • “All parties are equally enriched when we perceive and respond to each other with empathy and compassion.” - Helen Riess
  • “A prerequisite to empathy is simply paying attention to the person in pain.” - Daniel Goleman
  • “Empathy is the ability to step outside of your own bubble and to understand the realities of someone else’s life. It’s the cornerstone of human connection.” - Oprah Winfrey
  • "Self-empathy in [Non-Violent Communication] means checking in with your own feelings and needs." - Marshall B. Rosenberg
  • ”Empathy lies in our ability to be present without opinion.” - Marshall B. Rosenberg
  • “Empathy is choosing to see ourselves in another despite our differences. It’s recognizing that the same humanity—the same desire for meaning, fulfillment and security—exists in each of us, even if it’s expressed uniquely.” - Dr. Vivek Murthy
  • “Empathy is what creates our desire to build connection and to solve or even prevent conflicts from family disagreements to global crises.” - Dr. Vivek Murthy
  • "Empathy is a tool for building people into groups, for allowing us to function as more than self-obsessed individuals.” - Neil Gaiman
  • “The struggle of my life created empathy - I could relate to pain, being abandoned, having people not love me.” - Oprah Winfrey
  • “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou
  • “Fiction gives us empathy: it puts us inside the minds of other people, gives us the gifts of seeing the world through their eyes. Fiction is a lie that tells us true things, over and over.” - Neil Gaiman
  • “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” - Jack Kornfield
  • “The highest form of knowledge is… empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another's world.” -Bill Bullard
  • “The more we look through the eyes of wisdom at ourselves and one another, the more we cultivate a compassionate heart.” - Tara Brach
  • “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” - Leo Buscaglia
  • "Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them." - Dalai Lama
  • "To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides." - David Viscott
  • “Empathy is the bridge that connects hearts and minds.” - Daniel Goleman
  • “Some people think only intellect counts: knowing how to solve problems, knowing how to get by, knowing how to identify an advantage and seize it. But the functions of intellect are insufficient without courage, love, friendship, compassion, and empathy.” - Dean Koontz
  • "Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution." - Kahlil Gibran
  • "It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences." - Audre Lorde
  • "The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said." - Peter Drucker
  • "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle." - Plato
  • "The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart." - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  • "We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves." - Dalai Lama
  • “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” - Dalai Lama
  • “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern.” - Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
  • "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view. Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it." - Harper Lee
  • "Compassion for others begins with kindness to ourselves." - Pema Chödrön
  • “There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” - John Holmes
  • “There is no small act of kindness. Every compassionate act makes large the world.” - Mary Anne Radmacher
  • “Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion.” - Dalai Lama
  • “Empathy is really the opposite of spiritual meanness. It’s the capacity to understand that every war is both won and lost. And that someone else’s pain is as meaningful as your own.” - Barbara Kingsolver
How can I Use Empathy Quotes to Improve my Relationships?

How Can Letting Go Quotes Help Me in Difficult Times?

If you’re looking to improve your relationships, quotes on empathy can remind you of what your heart already knows: that at the heart of it, we are all the same. As you deepen your embodied sense of the common humanity we all share, it becomes easier to relate with compassion. When we bring more compassion to our relationships, they naturally improve.

You can use these quotes about empathy in the following ways:

  • Morning Reflection: Read through this list after waking up and then reflect on the heart qualities you’d like to cultivate throughout the day.
  • Daily Reminder: Choose your favorite quote about empathy on any particular morning. Come back to it throughout the day as a reminder to bring care and kindness to your relationships.
  • Conversation Starter: Share your favorite quotes with someone you love. Let it be a starting point for a heartfelt conversation.
  • Journal Prompt: In your journal, write down your favorite quote on empathy. Then journal about what it means to you, what it has to teach you, and how you can embody more empathy in your life.

Please note that empathy is not a panacea for our relationship challenges, and it does not imply that you should be endlessly open-hearted without boundaries. It is crucial to recognize that there may be some relationships and situations where establishing your safety and well-being is paramount. In these situations, empathy and compassion for oneself take priority. If you are experiencing abuse or harm of any kind (in any relationship), seek professional support.

Summing Up

The world needs more empathy, kindness, and compassion. The good news is that we’re all capable of growing and opening our hearts. As you continue your journey, let these empathy quotes serve to bridge gaps between you and others. Return to the empathy quotes list as often as you need to. May your path ahead be brimming with empathy and compassion, reaffirming the world our hearts long for.

About the author 

Sean Fargo

Sean Fargo is the Founder of Mindfulness Exercises, a former Buddhist monk of 2 years, a trainer for the mindfulness program born at Google, an Integral Coach from New Ventures West, and an international mindfulness teacher trainer. He can be reached at [email protected]

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