Exercise: Self-Empathy First!

There are four steps in Compassionate Communication: observations, feelings, needs, and requests – called OFNR for short. The distinctions we apply to the steps are:

1). Distinguish between observations and evaluations.
2). Distinguish between pure feelings and thoughts.
3). Distinguish between needs and strategies.
4). Distinguish between requests and demands.

Each of these directions can be applied to oneself, which is self-empathy; to connect with the humanity of another, which is empathic listening; and to express yourself honestly in a dialogue using honest expression. It is the practice of self-empathy we address in this exercise today – try it any time you like, you only need yourself! … Practice Self-Empathy First!Before sharing your concerns about another person’s actions or words, take time to connect with yourself.

Think of something someone did or said that didn’t work for you, and focus your attention on these areas:

–       Notice your judgments
–       What happened (an objective observation)?
–       How did you feel?
–       On a needs level, what were you hoping for instead? In other words, what need was not met?
–       Connect fully with that need. Take time to imagine it met.
–       What request arises in relation to that need?
–       If your request involves sharing this information with the other, what is your intention in doing so?

Now, imagine yourself sharing this information with the relevant person. What comes up for you when you imagine taking this step? If another need comes up for you, we invite you to go back to step 4 and imagine that need as being fully met, and then try again imagining sharing this information. We invite you to check in with your body during this process.

It is this self-connection and authentic expression that we value practice in person, with empathy buddies, in classes, at practice groups, in practicing NVC.

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