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empathy, 

ˈempəTHē/, noun, 1. the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Empathy is a simple and deep connection with what is alive in another or yourself.  It focuses on the feelings and needs present in any given experience and uses that focus to be let others know you are fully with them (or yourself), hearing, knowing and doing your best to understand.  To give another empathy is one of the greatest gifts you can give another (or yourself).   Among our deepest needs is the need to be connected to others, no be known and to know we matter. Empathy is a powerful tool to create that connection.

Below are some examples of what empathy is and isn't.

Your friend says to you, “My husbands snoring keeps waking me up. I’m exhausted!”   You respond...

What empathy isn’t:

  • Advising: “You should tell him if doesn’t get help he’s going to have to sleep in the guest room!”
  • Analysing: “I bet he doesn’t believe you.”
  • Comparing: “Ha, you should hear my husband.  I bet he’s worse!”
  • Consoling: “Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.”
  • Correcting: “You know, I remember when we camped last summer you were quite a snorer yourself. It might be you waking yourself up.”
  • Counseling: “Are you afraid to talk to him about this?”
  • Data Gathering: “How many times a night does his snoring wake you up?”
  • Diagnosing: “I bet you both need to improve your diet.  Did you know gluten can make you snore?”
  • Discounting: “You look fine.  I bet you are getting more sleep than you realize.”
  • Educating: “You know if you don’t sleep for at least 3 hours at a time you won’t feel rested.”
  • Fixing: “I’ll talk to your husband and give him my doctor’s number.  He cured my husband’s snoring.”
  • Sympathizing: “It’s awful that your husband doesn’t care enough about you to address this!”

Examples of an empathetic response:

  • “Are you feeling frustrated (or overwhelmed, resentful, angry, hopeless etc…)?”
  • “You sound tired.”
  • “Are you worried about how to get the sleep you need?”