When asked to define empathy, Marshall Rosenberg compared it to surfing, as he relates in this audio clip: Empathy and Surf. When you ride the wave, the thrill is so exhilarating, you forget everything else. You live in the moment, nothing else matters, so intent on riding the wave perfectly you and the wave become one.

Pain and worry disappear, replaced by euphoria, akin to flow. Similarly, when giving empathy, you want to strive for this kind of total presence for the person you are listening to. I transcribed the above recording as follows:

    Question: “What is the Definition for Empathy?”
    Rosenberg: “Empathy, I would say is presence. Pure presence to what is alive in a person at this moment, bringing nothing in from the past.
    The more you know a person, the harder empathy is. The more you have studied psychology, the harder empathy is. Empathy has nothing to do with any thoughts from the past.
    If you surf, you build empathy with the board and the water into your body; this is  what surfing is about.  With people, being present and riding the energy coming through you in the present is not a mental understanding.”
    Question: “Is empathy speaking from the heart?”
    Rosenberg: Empathy does not require any words, any thoughts at all.  Can you speak with your eyes? You can speak with your body language. If you say any words at all, it’s because you are not sure you are with the person. So you may say some words. Yet the words are not empathy. Empathy is when the other person feels a connection to what’s alive in you.”

Each training provides numerous experiences giving and receiving empathy.

  • Renew and improve the skills learnt in the Foundation Training
  • Learn more about the NVC approach to connecting empathically with yourself and others
  • Discover the healing power of presence.
  • Build your resilience under pressure.
  • Share the experiences you’ve had applying NVC in your life.