Empathic responses

An empathic response:

  • Assumes a positive intent

  • Arises from a place of curiosity and desire to understand

  • Is an attempt to listen for the need or priority behind the words.

Empathic responses are powerful because they help us find understanding and alignment with other people (or even ourselves).  Empathic responses are also effective in helping people to stay centered and able to focus on what matters instead of recovering from a misunderstanding. And when there are issues that need to be addressed, an empathic response can help streamline the path to innovative solutions and strategies.


  • What is at stake for you around this?

  • What is important for you in relation to this?

  • Is it most important for you that ______ ?

  • I’m not sure I understand what you said… I think you said ____ ?  Is that it?

  • Let me see if I am understanding that clearly.  Are you saying that _____?

  • Sounds like you want to make sure that we’re all on the same page.

Empathy is a respectful understanding of what others are experiencing.  Often, instead of offering empathy, we 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”

- Marshall B. Rosenberg