Conceptualizing Empathy Competence: A Professional Communication Perspective

Melissa Fuller*, Elanor Kamans, Mark van Vuuren, Marca Wolfensberger, Menno D.T. de Jong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
308 Downloads (Pure)


Empathy competence is considered a key aspect of excellent performance in communication professions. But we lack an overview of the specific knowledge, attitudes, and skills required to develop such competence in professional communication. Through interviews with 35 seasoned communication professionals, this article explores the role and nature of empathy competence in professional interactions. The analysis resulted in a framework that details the skills, knowledge, and attitudinal aspects of empathy; distinguishes five actions through which empathy manifests itself; and sketches relationships of empathy with several auxiliary factors. The framework can be used for professional development, recruitment, and the design of communication education programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-368
Number of pages36
JournalJournal of business and technical communication
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021


  • communication professionals
  • competencies
  • empathy
  • higher education
  • interpersonal communication
  • professional communication
  • UT-Hybrid-D


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