NVC in the Byron Bay Region
Empathy and Authenticity in Communication

NVC considers that human beings resort to behaviours that harm others when they don't recognise more useful strategies for meeting needs. NVC practice is about learning effective ways of identifying and communicating our feelings and needs and recognising the feelings and needs of others.

NVC focuses on a number of aspects in communication: 

• Empathy - openhearted listening to another's feelings and needs.
• Authenticity - genuineness, realness, truthfulness.
• Self-empathy -  a deep awareness of one's own inner experience.

• Feelings - identifying and expressing feelings.
• Needs - identifying and expressing needs.
• Requests - asking in clear, positive action language for what we want.

Empathy is a key aspect of NVC. Because the obvious benefits of empathy, it is tempting to try to be empathic. However trying to be empathic at times may just be that, trying; not being.

So one of the great challenges of NVC practice is to find a balance between authenticity and empathy. Real empathy is an actual and immediate feeling, anchored in a sense of genuine kindness. It is the inner draw to stay with the feelings and needs of another - often without words. The common response to authentic empathy is a sense of relief, connection and expansion.

The examples below suppose that your friend has expressed her need for empathy – by making a complaint. In each example your friend's statement is followed by a LESS than empathic response.

"I wish my housemate would clean up after himself!"

advising: "Why not just leave a big mess for him one day, then he'll know what it's like?"
solving:  "Could you ask him to leave?
fixing:  "Come out for a drink with me and you'll forget all about the state of the kitchen!"
educating: "This always happens when you don't set clear boundaries with people!"
analysing: "Hmm.. is that he is always in a rush, or is that you're more fussy than he is?"
investigating:  "Why did you do that?  What made you feel that way?"
data-gathering: "Is it just in the mornings he doesn't clear up, or is it all the time?"
diagnosing: "You probably feel like that because your mother kept her kitchen spotless."

correcting:  "Well to be fair, he usually does."
explaining: "What actually happened and the way it was…"
counselling: "Repeated arguments can be a way of avoiding dealing with issues."
devaluing: "Isn't it a bit obsessive wanting to have things clean all the time?"
discounting: "It's not such a big deal, why don't you just chill out about it?!"

one upping: "That is nothing, Jim has not cleaned up even once in our household"
comparing: "You should meet my husband, he's far worse!"
story telling: "Yes, the same thing happened to me. This one time…"
criticising:  " Actually I never seen you wash up or clean up either."
blaming: "You should never have accepted him to move in."
judging:  "It was your fault, you were too slack."

sympathising: "Yeah, it's crap isn't it when someone behaves so unfairly."
pitying: "I feel so sorry for you."
consoling: "Never mind, no need to feel upset, he's going abroad next year."

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Centre for Nonviolent Communication