What Empathy Is Not

When a person is telling us of a struggle they are having, there are many ways we can respond.  There is a specific type of response described in Nonviolent Communication, called the empathic guess, or empathic inquiry, or sometimes just referred to as empathy.  There are many other ways of responding.  We are not saying that any response is good or bad in itself.  We just want to clarify at this point what empathy is not.

Non-Empathic Responses 

  1. Judging:   criticizing the person or their point of view.
    1. I can’t believe you…
    2. You’re so…
  2. Consoling: 
    1. Oh you poor thing…
  3. Interpreting: telling the person what their motives are
    1. I think you’re doing this because
  4. Spiritual Bypass: 
    1. If you trust in God/Universe/Higher Power it’ll work out.  or  
    2. It was clearly meant to be this way.
  5. Reassuring:  
    1. It’s going to be alright. You’ll be okay.  or  
    2. You are good at that…  etc.
  6. Advice:   Suggestions or solutions
    1. You should…
    2. How come you didn’t…
  7. Sympathy:   
    1. I know how you feel…   that’s terrible… or  
    2. I understand…
  1. Data Gathering: 
    1. How long has this been happening…? or
    2. Did you…?  or
    3. Why are you…?
  2. Story telling:
    1. Did I tell you about the time my cousin…
  3. Educating: 
    1. I’ve learned that…  or
    2. The statistics are really compelling about that.
  4. Don’t Feel:   
    1. Don’t feel so….  or  
    2. You shouldn’t feel
  5. One-Up:   
    1. That’s nothing, let me tell you what happened to me…   
    2. It was so much worse…

For more articles like this, go to the www.authenticcommunicationgroup.com