Reflections: Good communication requires true empathy

In a culture that emphasizes judgment, criticism, punishment and blame, the need to be heard and to matter are two of the greatest unmet needs. Smith teaches that true empathy meets those needs.


Smith says, “People want empathy and not sympathy.” She teaches that often sympathy, the expression of pity, is confused with empathy, total presence, hearing and acceptance of another’s reality. To practice true empathy, we learn to put aside a life time of cultural conditioning. That takes a lot of practice.


Smith teaches when we are empathetic, we do not judge or blame, agree or disagree, wonder what he can do to help, or how we might respond. . We sit in quiet, still presence with an open heart. This requires gentle attentiveness to our own state of mind.


Ashok Nalamalapu