This type can be empowering: you understand a person’s hardship but since you aren’t experiencing it yourself, you’re able to take action and improve the situation.
If someone is drowning, you shouldn’t jump into the river yourself because you’d both be stuck. Instead, you should stick out a branch or rope they can grab onto. That’s compassionate empathy.
This is where things start to get dark. Think of every sleazy lawyer, salesperson, or interrogator you’ve ever heard about or come across – they all utilize cognitive empathy.
This gives narcissists the ability to see things from your perspective and then act in a way that’s most beneficial to them. Cognitive empathy is still empathy – just not the kind most people are familiar with.