Let’s Talk About Empathy This Week, Part 1
Posted by on Jul 17, 2013 in BLOG

As I was considering my blog post this week, I came across the words of the famed psychologist (and hero of mine) Carl Rogers. He describes empathy so well and so precisely, I was inspired to edit and share his words with you directly.

Carl Rogers wrote that empathy is a process rather than a state and that it means:

– entering the private perceptual world of the other and becoming thoroughly at home in it. 

– being sensitive, moment to moment, to the changing felt meanings which flow in this other person, to the fear or rage or tenderness or confusion or whatever, that he/she is experiencing.

– temporarily living in his/her life, moving about in it delicately without making judgments, sensing meanings of which he/she is scarcely aware, but not trying to uncover feelings of which the person is totally unaware, since this would be too threatening.

– communicating your sensing of his/her world as you look with fresh and unfrightened eyes at elements of which the individual is fearful.

– frequently check with him/her as to the accuracy of your sensings, and being guided by the responses you receive. You are a confident companion to the person in his/her inner world. By pointing to the possible meanings in the flow of his/her experiencing you help the person to focus on this useful type of referent, to experience the meanings more fully, and to move forward in the experiencing. To be with another in this way means that for the time being you lay aside the views and values you hold for yourself in order to enter another’s world without prejudice.

– lay aside yourself. This can only be done by a person who is secure enough in himself that he knows he will not get lost in what
may turn out to be the strange or bizarre world of the other, and can comfortably return to his own world when he wishes. 

– Carl Rogers (1975). Empathic: An unappreciated way of being. Counseling Psychologist, 5, 2-10.

Click here to watch Carl Rogers speak about empathy.