Building Community & Embracing Diversity

The Art of Compassionate Communication

Facilitation Skills: Decision Making & Conflict Resolution

Personal Empowerment & Leadership Skills

Celebrating Life:
Art & Creativity

Local, Bioregional & Global Outreach


2a. The Art of Compassionate Communication
Active and Deep Listening Giving and Receiving Feedback Compassionate Communication

Receiving Empathically

Empathy is a respectful understanding of what others are experiencing. Instead of offering empathy, we often have a strong urge to give advice or reassurance and to explain our own position or feeling. Empathy, however, calls upon us to empty our mind and listen to others with our whole being.

In Non Violent Communication, NVC, no matter what words others may use to express themselves, we simply listen for their observations, feelings, needs, and requests. Then we may wish to reflect back, paraphrasing what we have understood. We stay with empathy, allowing others the opportunity to fully express themselves, before we turn our attention to solutions or requests for relief.

NVC suggests that our paraphrasing take the form of questions that reveal our understanding while eliciting any necessary corrections from the speaker.

Questions may focus on:

  • What others are observing: ‘Are you reacting to how many evenings I was gone last week?’
  • How others are feeling and the needs generating their feelings: ‘Are you feeling hurt because you would have liked more appreciation of your efforts than you received?’
  • What others are requesting: ‘Are you wanting me to tell you my reasons for saying what I did?’


At a meeting, while you are in the middle of a sentence, someone turns to you suddenly and says, "Don't you ever let someone else have a chance to talk?". You can respond to this person with empathy by:

Sensing and reflecting back what the person might be observing:
"Are you referring to my going, 'Oh no, oh no, oh no' when Peter pointed to the map?"
Sensing and reflecting back what the person might be feeling and needing:
"Are you feeling irritated because you want everyone to be heard?"
Sensing and reflecting back what the person might be requesting:
"Would you like for us to go around and hear from everyone before I speak again?"