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Some people find it hard to express sympathy toward others. If you're finding that you're struggling with your ability to be sympathetic toward the plight or issues of those around you then these steps should help you in bringing out a more genuine sympathetic nature.
One of the best things that you can do is to learn to listen. You may not agree with what the other person is saying but you can certainly listen to them vent about it as well as even possibly have helpful things to add at the end. It's not up to you to have the solutions on hand. Most of the time the person that needs the sympathy doesn't require you to do anything other than listening. This is lending a sympathetic ear.
Too often we're wrapped up in our own little world and fail to see when those that we care about need us. When you're faced with someone that needs a little sympathy and compassion make sure that you pay full attention to them. Don't stop and check your phone or try and multitask with anything. If you truly want to offer sympathy then do them the courtesy of giving them your undivided attention. Open body language is also a good habit to adopt when listening to the other person. Keep your arms uncrossed so that you don't appear to be closed off while listening. Try, as well, to keep your body facing the person speaking and maintain eye contact.
If you do have any comments that you want to make, wait until after the person is finished with what they have to say. In most cases, the person talking to you needs to have the time to work through their issue while telling you about it and this allows them to do this. You may not feel as though you're helping but you really are.
If you're in doubt as to how to help the other person once they're done talking, tell them that you want to show them support and ask them if they need help solving this problem or if they simply need to vent. This will keep you from giving unwanted advice or even making the other person feel that the advice you're offering is somehow being turned into a discussion about you.
If you went through whatever they're going through and you have advice based on personal experience then ask them if they want to hear what you did to cope with a similar situation. This will keep them from feeling that you're forcing your opinion on them.
These are just a few simple ways that you can learn to become more sympathetic to those around you.