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How to Empathize in a way that Actually Helps

Updated: Nov 3, 2022

Even though most of us 9s have this beautiful, highly needed gift of empathy, it’s a struggle because we can also have a hard time being truly present with others when they are sharing something vulnerable with us.

Because of our deep desire for everything to be OK, we sometimes go right to either trying to show people the bright side, trying to fix things, or sharing our own experiences.

What people need in those vulnerable moments, though, isn’t necessarily a therapist or coach.

They need true human connection.

They need to know that there’s nothing wrong with them.

They need permission to feel everything they’re feeling.

They need to be understood and seen. Right. Where. They. Are.

So, how do we do this?

Here's a quick reference on how to use your gift of empathy in a way that truly helps the people that you care about.


  • Think about what you would have done or thought in this situation.

  • Try to fix things

  • Say anything that starts with "at least."


  • Help them name their emotion outloud

  • Feel with them

  • Allow YOURSELF to feel uncomfortable emotions and remember that nothing has gone wrong.

  • If you don't know what to say, tell them: "I don't know what to say right now, but I'm so glad that you told me."

Remember this: What will help them more than anything, isn't what you say, but how you connect. They need connection. They need to know they're OK. Help them to feel that.

Try The Bold Nine when you're ready for some real help with your Enneagram Nine struggles!

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