Empathy has many forms like polymorph crystals have. Polymorphs are different crystalline forms of the same pure substance. The two main forms of empathy are emotional empathy and intellectual (cognitive) empathy.
Intellectual empathy includes knowing how other people think and feel, while emotional empathy involves feeling another person’s emotions”.
To explain the difference let me share this scenario. Imagine you have just finished a lecture in which you suggested a new strategy for businesses. Upon finishing your lecture, an authority person stands up and says you are crazy to suggest such a rubbish strategy. This authority behaved in a negative and cruel way. He lacked emotional empathy for embarrassing you in public. He did not care for how you would feel. He also lacked intellectual empathy before he forgot that before saying somebody is wrong you must be sure 300% that he was correct. He could have asked questions for verifications.
We observe the same in brainstorming sessions where people tend to criticize ideas as soon as they hear those using harsh words like this is a stupid idea.
I present here “The Empathy Grid” to discuss four scenarios. These include low empathy of both types, high empathy of both types, high and then low of each type of empathy.
Having low empathy of both intellectual and emotional empathy is detrimental to human relations. Lack of both types of empathy. Families and teams disintegrate when falling into this quadrant. People behave like dry wood with the poverty of empathy.
The caveat is the quadrant wherein both types of empathy are high (top right quadrant). People think that having too much of both types is great. It is not.
Having too much intellectual empathy may have the adverse effect of caring too much about how people think or feel. This can be paralyzing from voicing different thoughts that oppose the offered ones.
Having too much emotional empathy makes us under the control of how others feel. This is tiring, freezing, and unproductive.
The same applies to the quadrants wherein one type of empathy is excessively high.
We need balanced empathy with the two types of empathy coexist. Balanced empathy is what we should seek.