Empathy is a form of openness.  It is a communication skill.  It is important for effective communication to occur.  Here is a model for how to communicate empathy:


It’s important when you are sharing what you observed to be specific with details and try to give the person’s exact words.  Try not to use labels or guesses in the observation part of your statement.  The Inference is the next section.  Try to make sure to communicate this in such a way that the other person knows that it is a guess and not a fact.  In the third part of this skill, you will return the focus to the person.  It is best to ask open ended questions and use you listening skills.

It may look something like this:

(Observation) I noticed that your tone got louder when you said “I can’t take this anymore!”  Your face was red and your hands hit the table loudly too.

(Inference)  I am guessing that something is upsetting you and you have been trying to be patient for a while.

(Return of Focus)  How does that sound to you?

At first, some communication skills feel awkward.  But after practicing, everyone involved benefits and is able to feel respected.

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