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Re: Nonviolent Communication Seminar

Posted by Cristie Holliday on March 10, 2010, 11:25 pm, in reply to "Re: Nonviolent Communication Seminar"

The difference between sympathy and empathy has to do with the way that we hear someone.
Some of you have asked about what would be presented in 'Getting to the Heart of the Matter'.
Below you will find one of the skills we will focus on.

With Empathy, one listens with the whole body, sensing all the feelings that arise as we hear the words of someone else. There is no thinking involved. Rather we make ourselves a vessel to hold the feelings and deep meanings that spin off the words we hear into the still pond of our conscious awareness.

This form of listening distills the words heard; their meaning resonates through the intuitive response, as though the cells tune up to the sounds and vibrations of the speaker's words and presence.

In this way, the empathic listener attempts to listen to this intuitive sense registering in their body to know what the speaker is experiencing on a cellular level. It does not have to be a perfected skill to be effective as a tool for supporting the speaker. An intention to simply hold the space for the speaker without fixing or analyzing them is all that is required.

An empathic response will lead the person we address deeper into their awareness of their feelings and needs that arise out of the situation they are experiencing.

Even if our guess at their feelings and needs is wrong, empathic response succeeds in supporting the speaker in moving swiftly into an inventory of the feelings and needs that are alive in them.

Sometimes being incorrect in one's guess is more effective support than matching the speaker's feelings and needs exactly.

This is because it compels the speaker to move more deeply into self awareness, pulling them out of the whirlpool of reacting, blaming, etc.

Sympathy tends to deepen the emotional state of the person who receives it, sometimes spiraling them into a weakened state. The listener listens from the rational mind,and from the emotional body,seldom from a place of union with the other.

Instead the sympathetic listener is focusing on the 'other'. It is rarely a strengthening form of response; rather it addresses that person as in a static state, i.e. it does not move them in their conscious awareness.

In nonviolent communication, our focus is on developing empathic listening skills. This has to be practiced in order to effect a change in the psyche. This one skill "Getting to the Heart of the Matter" hones in participants.

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