Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Empathy - The Missing Link
When talking about parenting with Nonviolent Communication, many parents I work with ask me - what about boundaries? What about right and wrong? How will I ever teach my child to behave?
I'd like to reassure you. No one is taking any of that away from you. We all have values which we think are important to pass on. The question is, not what our message is, but how we say it and more importantly, how will our child receive it? I mean. lets face it folks - how many times have we talked and talked at our child and all we get in response is this far away look and silence? Did our message get through? I doubt it. If anything did get through it's the sound, the vibration, the tone of our voice which can be, in these instances, a little harsh. That won't open our kids' hearts and minds to hearing us, I can bet you that.
So what's missing? Empathy. Let me give you a little example:
The other day Tom, my 10 year old son, and, as I like to call him, my personal Guru (yes, that's him in that photo) had that faraway. glazed look, while I was ranting about something, I can't even remember what. Fortunately for both of us, I suddenly noticed what was going on and said:
Tom, you don't like what you're hearing now, right?
Well.....yeah Ima (Mom in Hebrew)
And I'm guessing that it's not what I'm saying, as much as how ?
Now I got his attention! Tom experienced being seen and acknowledged, we made eye contact, I became softer and we had a laugh. Then I could take a moment to look inside and connect with what I was needing in this situation, and say it the way Nonviolent Communication offers us. My needs of communication, dialogue and understanding were met. Not to mention that it changed the mood completely, and I was heard!
That's the magic of Empathy, the missing link. Before educating - we make a connection.
So if Empathy's so great, why can't we always be empathic?
That's in my next post. Till then -try it and let me know how it works for you!
Posted by Yael Brisker at Tuesday, April 27, 2010