People Who Don’t Show Empathy Usually Have These 17 Traits

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By Jonathan Trent

Empathy, the ability to understand the feelings of others, is a fundamental part of human interaction. Unfortunately, not everyone exhibits this trait, and the following 17 traits are classic tell-tale signs that you are dealing with someone who shows no empathy. 

Lack of Emotional Response

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If you express your distress to another person, this should be met with an emotional response. This is because, as Harvard Business Review points out, empathy and compassion are essential in fostering meaningful connections. Sadly, those who lack empathy have difficulty understanding other people’s perspectives and, therefore, will not show an emotional response. 

Inability To Recognise Non-verbal Cues

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Non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions and body language, subtly showcase our emotions and intentions. For those lacking empathy, reading these cues can be a difficult task, making social interactions awkward and uncomfortable. It can also lead to misunderstandings and misinterpretations.

Narcissistic Tendencies 

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There is a connection between empathy deficiency and narcissism. Those who lack empathy tend to prioritize their own needs and desires above others, just like a narcissist would. Narcissists also overlook the feelings of others and similarly disregard their emotions to those who do not possess empathy for others.

Low Levels of Emotional Intelligence

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Harvard Medical School highlights that empathy is a cornerstone of emotional intelligence. Without it, it’s difficult to understand the emotions of everyone else. Consequently, those lacking empathy will have a hard time relating to the experiences of others and will not display emotional awareness when they are engaged in a deep conversation.

Self-centered Conversations

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Individuals who lack empathy tend to dominate conversations. This may manifest in interrupting others, showing a lack of consideration, and failing to ask questions about someone else. Without empathy for another person, there is a lack of balanced dialogue and no mutual understanding between individuals.

Insensitivity To Others

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Empathy is crucial for having compassion for other people. Without empathy, it is not possible to fully comprehend the struggles of others. A person with no empathy may make insensitive remarks or engage in behaviors that cause harm to others. This may stem from a lack of understanding rather than malicious intentions.

Minimizing The Emotions of Others

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Individuals devoid of empathy have trouble understanding the complexity of other people’s emotions, and may veer towards downplaying or minimizing them. In most situations, they fail to acknowledge and validate the emotions of others, which can cause a lot of stress for the person on the other end.

Difficulty Forming Meaningful Connections

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For those with no empathy, forming meaningful connections with others is a challenge. Empathy bridges positive interaction between individuals; without this, it can be a struggle to break the barriers to intimacy and closeness. In particular, The Guardian emphasizes that lacking empathy has a huge impact on romantic relationships.

They’re Confrontational

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Someone who cannot express empathy will frequently engage in conflicts and misunderstandings. Empathy is crucial for mending relationships and helping people come to a mutual agreement, so a lack of empathy may spur conflict, as they will fail to recognize and validate the feelings of others.

They’re Unsupportive

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Individuals who empathize with others usually offer meaningful support to those in need or crisis. However, those devoid of empathy fail to grapple with and empathize with other people and their struggles. They will be unable to offer comfort to those around them, making them feel unheard.

Showing No Remorse

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When most people make a mistake, they will feel a surge of guilt for their behavior. However, without empathy, individuals may display a lack of remorse for the harm that they have caused. This is because their emotional detachment from the situation means that they have an inherent disregard for the feelings of others.

Disregard For Social Norms

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Social norms function as rules for appropriate behavior, allowing people in society to co-exist peacefully. Respect is a fundamental aspect of following social norms, so people who lack empathy will struggle with this and may take part in actions that put others at risk with no regard for their safety.

Lack of accountability 

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People who lack empathy will rarely admit to their mistakes. This absence of accountability for their actions comes from a lack of realization about the consequences of their actions. They may feel entitled to act only in a manner that pleases themselves without considering other people.

Shallow Emotional Range 

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Lacking empathy often coincides with an absence of other emotions, including joy or sadness. Although people may recognize these emotions within themselves, without empathy, it’s difficult to recognize them in other people. This makes it far more difficult for them to understand a wide spectrum of feelings unless they concern their own. 

Manipulative Tendencies 

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When someone has empathy, they feel guilty if they take advantage of others. Meanwhile, individuals without empathy will exploit others for personal gain with no remorse. They may not even realize they are doing this, and Frontiers explains that, if unaddressed, this could develop into bigger problems, such as narcissism. 

Superficial Charm 

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When you meet someone with no empathy, they may seem charming or even alluring. However, this charm often masks their true intentions. Empathy plays a huge role in fostering authentic connections, and without it, individuals may use superficial charm as a tool to get what they want, duping people in the process.

Unwillingness To Grow

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Finally, empathy encourages us to grow and become better individuals, so if someone has no empathy, they will be unwilling to evolve. With no compassion for other people, they will be unable to reflect on their behavior and learn from experiences, as they have no inclination to consider how their actions impact other people.