I believe most people are like I was. Absolutely certain I knew what empathy was until I was asked to compare it with sympathy. That was the start of an amazing discovery for me. To be honest I am still getting my head around it although I have been comforted by reading the following  article https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/58ebace7e4b081da6ad00633


Seung Chan Lim (Slim) ,

Seung the writer of the article says " I've spent 18 years exploring the role of design & empathy in innovation. " Apart from writing   an award-winning book titled "Realizing Empathy Seung " he has won awards such as the CES innovation award .   

This Resonates

Slim says "One of the most difficult parts of writing my book has been to come to a resolution on what empathy is.

I browsed through what felt like a hundred different definitions of empathy. It all came down to a simple fact. Empathy is, first and foremost, a word. Not any word, but a word invented to explain an event . 

The Complexity

 Seung Chan wrote =====What I worry is that these misunderstandings can make people label empathy as a mere “buzz word,” without ever looking beyond its surface.------------So much so that in “These Things Called Empathy,” social psychologist Daniel Batson examines a whopping eight different ways people use the word.--------As a matter of fact, empathizing is more often than not completely confused with another phenomena, sympathizing, which means “to feel sorry for someone.” 

Not a synonym.

As a result, it is often misunderstood as a synonym for being nice, kind, polite, or even altruistic toward others

The Ethologist Frans De Waal says " There exists in fact no obligatory connection between empathy and kindness, and no animal can afford treating everyone nicely all the time. "
At the same time they can seek to understand.