Enjoy this re-post about the power of empathy, especially in difficult relationships.

One of our fundamental needs as human beings is to be heard and to be accepted as we are. Take a moment to recall where you were going through a hard time and someone empathized with you. How did it feel? Pretty good I expect.

When someone empathizes with us we don’t feel judged; we no longer feel alone; we feel understood; we become calmer; we usually feel better and are more able to handle a difficult  situation.

empathy babies

Empathy is a powerful tool for connecting to another person in an open loving way.  It feels good to us, yet how often do we intentionally or mindfully empathize with someone else … especially when someone is angry or frustrated?
Marshall Rosenberg writes in his book “Non Violent Communication; a Language of Life“ how it can be especially difficult to empathize with those who appear to possess more power, status or resources and those who are closest to us.
One of my favorite take aways is:

“Empathize, rather than put your “but” in the face of an angry person.”

When we want to help we tend to jump in with a “but” and a “fix” for the other person. Yet empathy is more powerful and empowering.

He writes: “I continue to be amazed by the healing power of empathy. Time and again I have witnessed people transcending psychological pain when they have contact with someone who hears them with empathy.”

Why not increase your ability to empathize with this exercise:

frustrated man at work

Over the next few days see if you can empathize more with those people who are closest to you, your children, a colleague, or even your boss.

Really tune in to what they might be feeling and reflect back what you are sensing they are going through. Here are some examples of reflecting feelings statements:

It sounds like you are really frustrated about this

I can see that this is tough for you

I can’t imagine all that you are going through. It must be so hard

I’m sensing that this is scary for you

I hear that you are concerned

It sounds like this is a real challenge for you

but in your face

 It sounds so simple, yet can be hard to do in that moment. So instead of putting your “but” and point of view in the other person’s face, empathize with their situation and reflect what they might be feeling.

Give the gift of feeling heard and understood.

23 comments on “The Power of Empathy

  1. As usual, really good advice. Trying to remember to empathize instead on knee-jerk reactivity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Kathy. Yes! When we approach someone with empathy, it really slows everything down … stepping into listening and attuning gets us out of our heads and our knee jerks!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have fortunately, and way too late in the game, started to catch myself and stop those jerk reflexes. Listening to someone is such a gift to them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wise words, Val. I love your ‘takeaway’ – so good as a way to remember!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Being listened to and accepted in the moment can be a powerful healing force. It can change the entire being and life at times. I love NVC language that teaches such practical ways of detaching from the stickiness and putting ownership of feelings where it belongs.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post Val! Being present is a daily practice and I found when I became present to my own needs first, I was able to offer this space to others more easily. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. OK, Here goes:

    Donald, I hear that you’ve been banned from Twitter. It sounds like you are really frustrated about this.

    And you lost the election to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. I can see that this transition is tough for you.

    I can’t imagine all that you are going through ~ the election loss, the pandemic, and having to pack up an move out of the WH. It must be so hard, especially since many of your aides have abandoned you.

    I’m sensing that this next chapter is scary for you since you may be prosecuted and unable to pardon yourself.

    I hear that you are concerned that you may not be welcomed with open arms at Mar Lago.

    And to top it all off, many of your supporters are losing Twitter followers as a result of your failed coup. Plus Melania won’t even hold your hand. It sounds like reality is a real challenge for you.

    How’s that, Val?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ten out of ten Nancy!! Thank you for this 💛 I bet Donald would feel better.
      As his coach I would then go on to ask him. “What support do you need right now?… What attitude adjustment will it take? …What behaviors will you need to change?”
      If he isn’t able to answer, then it’s confirmation that he’s uncoachable.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I think empathy is one of the most powerful characteristic a person can have…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Empathy is powerful. Great examples of how to approach others with interest and compassion, Val. Empathy opens up communication. It’s a great first step.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Sterling advice for these times, Val. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This is truly an important characteristic to have. Active listening is a skill that goes with it and so hard to always do. Still catching myself wanting to “fix it” on occasion.. Thanks for the reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

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