Empathy and considerate communication


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“Empathy is a respectful understanding of what others are experiencing” (Marshall Rosenberg).

It is about listening not only with our ears or with our minds but with our whole being. We usually go ahead and analyze what we are listening and try to fix the situation, that behavior prevents us from being present to the feelings and needs of the person across us.

“We give to others the time and space they need to express themselves fully and to feel understood” (Marshall Rosenberg).

Empathy is very important to help others to develop their best potentialities.

Carl Rogers explains a way of helping others by creating a relationship where the teacher shows systematically positive and unconditional attitudes, empathy and congruency. This assists pupils to accept and recognize their own feelings, drives and wishes. Therefore, the pupil can know himself/herself better and can accept and remain true to themselves, which means being authentic, congruent and assertive.


Stay connected to what is going on in you.
Turn your attention to your needs and values.
Stay connected to your inner voice, even when you tend to avoid or distract.

You can say to yourself:
“I love it when I get………………………………”
(Fill the blank with a need/value of yours).

“I love it when I get understanding”

Try not to specify or mention the source for meeting your needs such as “I love it when I get understanding from my husband”

Personal goal:
To remember my needs and values so as to be capable to respond to what I want and need rather than reacting to what I don’t want or don’t need.
(e.g. If your need is to be heard, you can ask the other person to listen without interrupting you, rather than shouting at them for not listening to you).


To be listened is a unique experience. Very few people are actually listening to what the person across them have to say. Listening is a skill everyone can learn and develop. Usually the level we are using for listening is superficial. Usually we are focusing on words, on what we said and what the other person said. Other times we disconnect from the conversation and we are thinking about what we are going to say next, to solve the problem or take care of the feelings of the person across us.

This is not active listening.

Listening in a deep and substantial level requires minimization of evaluation and judgment of what we are hearing.

Listening requires awareness.

We are listening not only with our ears but also with the rest of our senses. We are receiving information through multiple channels such as images, feelings, energy, and intuition. We notice the breathing of the other person when we are talking on the phone, the pace, the modulation, the tone of the voice. In person, we can notice the body language. We are not listening only to the person but also to everything that is going on around our conversation. In the environment that surrounds us. That means being aware of what we are listening.
After that and as being aware of what we are listening, we can decide and act on how we will respond and how we are going to make good use of our awareness. So, listening includes action and it is not a passive behavior of hearing as we usually think of it.

Deep level of listening often is being described as “environmental listening”. Performers such as actors, musicians, trainers are working on their ability to “read” a room and monitor the changes that are happening in response to what they are doing. Those people learn to listen to environmental cues, read their impact on people and adjust their behavior accordingly.

Active listening is being present. Present with all our senses for the person is talking to us. When people realize that are really being heard then they open up, they feel safe, they trust, they are becoming present.

So, there is the point where people meet and communication starts!


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Title: “Walk a mile in my shoes”

Objective: To familiarize yourself with empathic perspective of communication and practice the ability for empathy in different situations.

Contents: Sketches and Questions.

Material: Sketches and possible your own pen and notepad.

Please reflect on the following situations and each time answer the respective questions.

Take time to contemplate on the given situations.


  • What are your thoughts when you look at this sketch?
  • How do you feel?
  • How do you think the parent feels?
  • What do you think about the way the teacher feels?
  • How do you think the student feels?
  • How could the teacher handle this specific situation?


  • What are your thoughts when you look at this sketch?
  • How do you feel?
  • How do you think student A feels?
  • How do you think student B feels?
  • How could the teacher handle this specific situation?


  • What are your thoughts when you look at this sketch?
  • How do you feel?
  • How do you think teacher A feels?
  • How do you think teacher B feels?
  • How could the teacher handle this specific situation?

 Case studies

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A 1st grade student is in the classroom and jumping on the desk. Paul the teacher enters the classroom after the bell rings. The student continues to be on the desk throwing things around. Other students are complaining about his behavior because he has broken several personal items of theirs. There is a lot of noise and shouting. Paul is standing in the middle of the classroom and he seems torn between different feelings. Paul was initially feeling anger and frustration when he faced the disobedient student but at the same time he felt guilty because he was having difficulty to make the little student listen to him and comply with classroom rules. Paul started shouting at him and asked him to sit down and be quiet. The student continued shouting and this time even louder. Paul was thinking that the student might want to express some needs he has that cannot be met in the framework of the classroom.

So, Paul approached the little student and asked him kindly to sit down. Paul suggested to him to discuss during the next recess the reasons why the student was behaving like that.

Reflection Questions:

  • In which way active listening will help Paul in that discussion with his student?
  • Are there other feelings Paul might have and why?
  • What needs could the student possibly have that make him unable to express them in an effective way?