How to Tell Someone You Understand Their Feelings: A Guide

When it comes to human relationships, empathy is often considered the cornerstone of emotional intelligence. Being able to understand and relate to someone else's feelings is a sign of emotional maturity and can make all the difference in fostering healthy connections with others. However, expressing empathy isn’t always as straightforward as it may seem. Saying the wrong thing or not saying anything at all can actually do more harm than good. It's important to know how to communicate effectively with others when we want to show understanding and support. In this regard, using certain phrases and language can go a long way in conveying empathy and diffusing tense situations. In this article, we'll explore different ways of telling someone you understand their feelings, so that you can build stronger relationships with the people in your life.

Is Saying I Know How You Feel Empathy?

Empathy is a complex emotion that involves the ability to connect deeply with the feelings of someone else. It requires both an intellectual understanding of their situation as well as a strong emotional component. Saying “I know how you feel” can often come across as dismissive or minimizing of someone elses experience.

In fact, research has shown that when people hear that phrase, they often feel invalidated or even angry. This is because it can be interpreted as a failure to truly understand the depth of their emotions. The person may feel like their feelings are being brushed aside or not taken seriously.

So what should you say instead? One option is simply to say “Im here for you” or “Im listening.”. These phrases convey a sense of support and validation without trying to claim that you fully understand what the person is going through. Another option is to ask open-ended questions and encourage the person to share their thoughts and feelings in their own words.

Ultimately, the goal of empathy isn’t to try to solve someone elses problems or to make them feel better. Instead, it’s about creating a safe space for them to express themselves and feel heard. When you approach empathy with this mindset, you can create deeper and more meaningful connections with others.

Instead, focus on creating a space for them to share and validate their feelings. With practice, you can become a more empathetic listener and build stronger relationships with those around you.

Strategies for Communicating Empathy Effectively in Different Contexts, Such as in the Workplace or in Therapy.

  • Active Listening
  • Nonverbal Cues
  • Validation of feelings
  • Responding with empathy
  • Reflective listening
  • Cultural sensitivity and awareness
  • Positioning oneself in the other’s shoes
  • Acknowledgment of the situation
  • Use of appropriate language
  • Being present and attentive

It’s important to be mindful of the impact of our words, especially in situations where someone may be opening up about their personal experiences. While we may have good intentions in expressing empathy, using phrases like “I know how you feel” can sometimes backfire and create a barrier to meaningful communication. Instead, we should prioritize active listening and creating a safe space for those around us to share their stories without fear of being misunderstood or dismissed.

What Is the Problem With Saying I Understand How You Feel?

When someone is going through a difficult time, it can be tempting to jump in with phrases like “I know how you feel” or “I understand what you’re going through.”. However, while these phrases may be well-intentioned, they can sometimes do more harm than good. When we say we understand how someone feels, we may inadvertently shut them down before they”ve had a chance to fully express themselves. This can lead to feelings of isolation, frustration, and even anger.

At the heart of the problem is the fact that nobody can truly know exactly how someone else is feeling. We may have experienced something similar, but we can never truly know what it’s like to be in another person’s shoes. By saying “I understand,” we may be trying to empathize, but we may also be unwittingly downplaying the other person’s experience. It’s important to remember that each person’s experience is unique, and each person deserves to be heard and validated.

Another issue with saying “I know how you feel” is that it may come across as dismissive. Rather than truly listening to what the other person is saying, we may be focused on offering a quick fix or reassuring them that everything will be okay. But this approach can be counterproductive. If someone is sharing their struggles with us, they’re likely looking for someone to listen and offer support, not someone to solve their problems.

So what should we do instead? The key is to practice active listening. This means paying attention to what the other person is saying, asking questions to clarify their feelings and experiences, and offering words of encouragement or validation as needed. We don’t need to have all the answers, and we don’t need to pretend that we know exactly how the other person feels. Simply offering a listening ear and a kind word can go a long way in providing comfort and support.

Going back to the original problem of saying “I understand how you feel,” it’s important to remember that this phrase can also be problematic in medical contexts. Patients may feel frustrated or even insulted when a healthcare provider jumps in with a quick reassurance without fully listening to their concerns. This can lead to miscommunications, misunderstandings, and ultimately, a breakdown in trust. By taking the time to actively listen to patients and acknowledging their unique experiences, healthcare providers can build stronger, more compassionate relationships with their patients.

While it may be tempting to offer quick reassurances like “I understand how you feel,” it’s important to be mindful of the potential problems with this approach. Instead, we should focus on practicing active listening, offering words of validation and encouragement, and acknowledging the unique experiences of each person we interact with. By doing so, we can build stronger, more supportive relationships and help others feel heard, validated, and understood.

However, in certain situations, the phrase can come across as insincere or dismissive of someone’s unique experiences. It’s important to consider the context and your relationship with the person before deciding whether or not to use this phrase. Let’s explore some alternatives to “I understand how you feel” that can still convey empathy and support.

Should I Say I Understand How You Feel?

Saying “I understand how you feel” can be a great way to express empathy or sympathy, but it should be used with caution. When someone is going through a difficult time, it can be tempting to try and relate to them by sharing similar experiences or emotions. However, it’s important to remember that everyone’s experiences are unique and what may have worked for you may not work for them.

It’s important to show sincerity and genuine concern for the person’s situation. Using active listening skills, such as asking open-ended questions and reflecting on what they’re saying, can be more effective in demonstrating empathy and validating their emotions.

It’s also important to be mindful of cultural differences when expressing sympathy or empathy. Some cultures may place more emphasis on individualism, while others may focus on collectivism. This can impact how someone perceives your attempt to empathize and can lead to miscommunication or misunderstandings. Being aware of these differences can help you tailor your approach and express empathy more effectively.

Different Ways to Express Empathy or Sympathy Beyond “I Understand How You Feel”

When someone experiences a difficult situation, it’s important to express empathy or sympathy in a sincere way. Here are some ways to communicate this beyond the common phrase “I understand how you feel”:

1. “That must have been so hard for you, I’m here if you need anything.”
2. “I can’t imagine how tough that was, but I want you to know that I care.”
3. “I’m sorry you’d to go through that. If there’s anything I can do to help, please let me know.”
4. “I don’t know what to say, but please know that I’m here for you.”
5. “Your feelings are valid and I support you in any way I can.”

When someone is going through a tough time, it’s natural to want to offer words of comfort and support. However, some phrases, like “I know how you feel,” can come across as dismissive or insincere. Thankfully, there are plenty of alternative phrases that can show your empathy and support without diminishing the other person’s experiences. Here are a few to consider using in your next conversation.

What Can I Say Instead of I Know How You Feel?

When someone you know or love is going through something difficult, it can be tough to know what to say. One common phrase people tend to use is “I know how you feel,” but sometimes it can come across as insincere or minimizing. However, there are plenty of other things you can say that convey empathy and support without making assumptions about someone elses experiences.

One alternative is simply to acknowledge the persons struggle and offer words of encouragement. Saying “It’s going to be okay” may seem simplistic, but it can be a way to remind someone that they’ll get through whatever theyre facing. Sometimes having someone else believe in you is all it takes to keep going.

Another option is to express your care and concern more directly by saying something like, “Im sending you my best wishes” or “Im thinking of you.”. These phrases can help someone feel seen and valued, even if you don’t know exactly what theyre going through.

If you’ve confidence in the persons ability to handle the situation, you might say, “You can do this.”. This can be especially powerful if the person is feeling overwhelmed or unsure of themselves. By affirming their strengths, you may be able to give them the boost they need to keep going.

If youre not sure what to say, you can always ask the person to share their feelings with you. Saying something like, “I’d love to hear how youre feeling about everything” is a non-judgmental way to invite someone to open up. By actively listening to their response, you can offer support that’s tailored to their specific circumstances.

Lastly, it’s important to remind someone that they don’t have to go through difficult times alone. Saying “Im here for you” can be a powerful way to offer support and comfort. Sometimes just knowing that you’ve someone to lean on can make all the difference.

There are many ways to express empathy and support without resorting to the cliché of “I know how you feel.”. By acknowledging the persons struggle, offering encouragement or specific assistance, and reminding them that they aren’t alone, you can demonstrate that you care and are there for them during a tough time.

The Difference Between Sympathy and Empathy, and Why Empathy Is Often a More Effective Way to Support Someone

Sympathy is feeling sorry for someone, while empathy is understanding and sharing their feelings. Empathy is often a more effective way to support someone because it helps them feel heard, understood, and validated, which can create a deeper sense of connection and trust.

When trying to communicate a complex idea, it’s not uncommon to fear that your audience won’t fully comprehend what you’re saying. In situations like this, it’s important to use language that conveys gratitude and a desire for clarity. Rather than simply stating “I hope you understand,” there are several alternative phrases that can help you convey your message effectively. Here are some of the most useful ones to keep in mind.

What Is Another Way of Saying I Hope You Understand?

At times, it can be challenging to convey feelings of empathy and understanding towards another person. One such example of this is trying to communicate the sentiment of hoping that someone understands something. This is because it can come across as insincere or robotic, lacking in true emotion or empathy. Fortunately, there are several phrases you can use that convey the same sentiment but with a more genuine, empathetic tone.

One common way of expressing gratitude for someones understanding is by saying “Thank you for your understanding.”. This phrase is straightforward and to the point, making it a good option in professional or formal settings. It can be used when apologizing for a mistake, providing bad news, or asking for a favor.

This phrase adds a touch of warmth and appreciation that can help soften the blow of bad news or misunderstandings. For instance, you might say, “I understand this may be a frustrating situation, but your patience and understanding mean a lot to us.”

When you want to be crystal clear about what youre communicating, it’s helpful to use declarative phrases like “We wish to be clear that..” or “Our intention is to be fully transparent that..”. These phrases signal to the listener that youre not beating around the bush and that you want to make sure they understand your message completely. They can be useful in situations where theres a risk of confusion, miscommunication, or misinterpretation.

Sometimes, giving a clear explanation can help alleviate confusion, frustration, or misunderstanding. Thats where the phrase “Please accept our explanation that..” comes in handy. It acknowledges that there may have been some confusion or miscommunication, but it also provides an explanation for what went wrong, why it happened, and what steps youre taking to fix it.

There are several ways to express empathy and understanding when communicating with others. Whether youre apologizing for a mistake, giving bad news, or simply trying to convey a message, these phrases can add a touch of warmth and appreciation that can help soften the blow of difficult conversations. So next time youre struggling to find the right words, try using phrases like “Thank you for your understanding”, “Your patience/understanding/comprehension is/are greatly appreciated”, “We wish to be clear that..”, “Our intention is to be fully transparent that..”, or “Please accept our explanation that..”.

Source: What’re the other ways of saying ‘we hope you understand …


It involves acknowledging their thoughts and emotions without invalidating them or offering unsolicited advice. The use of phrases like "OK," "Alright," and "Sure" might seem insignificant, but they convey a powerful message that you're paying attention to their words and feelings. Additionally, saying "I see where you're coming from" or "That makes sense" shows that you respect their perspective and agree with their reasoning. Ultimately, understanding someone's feelings requires active listening and genuine empathy, and by using these phrases, you can improve your communication and build stronger relationships with those around you.