Specialist Language Courses

OET Speaking: Start Building Your Empathy Muscles Today

OET Speaking: Start Building Your Empathy Muscles Today
Share This Post

In the OET’s speaking sub-test, your skill at showing empathy will be assessed. As a definition, empathy is the ability to understand the feelings of another person by imagining what it would be like in their situation. It’s a skill anyone can work at, and over the next few weeks you’ll discover SLC’s guide to building your empathy muscles. Of course, having it isn’t the same as showing it, but it’s a crucial place to start.

Are you empathetic? Maybe you assume you are, but it’s easier to feel it for a person whose personality or background is similar to yours. When someone is very different to you, or exhibits behaviours you wouldn’t display yourself, it can be much harder. On the other hand, you don’t want to over-empathise, because to be successful in your job, you need to have clear emotional boundaries. It’s unhelpful to arrive home in tears every night because someone else’s problems have become your own.

But feeling empathy doesn’t mean feeling other people’s emotions. It simply means recognising how things are for them, while taking a step back. It’s a difficult balancing act, but one that’s important to learn. Not only for passing the OET, but for all your professional life.

Quiz: How empathetic are you?

  1. Do you sometimes think ‘If I were them, I’d never behave like that.’?
  2. Have you ever wondered why there are so many idiots in the world?
  3. A friend’s upset. Would you be the last person they called to talk to?
  4. Do you get frustrated with those who don’t see your point of view?
  5. Do you think people in general often don’t try their best?

Mostly ‘yes.’

You can definitely build your empathy muscles. Luckily, you’re in the right place to do so.


Mostly ‘no.’

Your empathy muscles are good. Now, discover how to watch them grow.

Stephanie Lam
About the author

Stephanie Lam is a writer, journalist, and English teacher. She specialises in writing fabulous words for the wellbeing and health industries.

Want to pass the OET exam? We want to help!

OET Preparation with Specialist Language Courses

SLC was the OET-accredited Premium Preparation Provider in Europe and is the leading provider of OET preparation services to the UK National Health Service.

SLC offers a wide range of OET preparation services, including self-study, tutoring, practice tests, and writing correction.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get updates and get the latest materials on Medical English, OET and IELTS

More to explore