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© Article translated from the book “Ascolto attivo ed empatia. I segreti di una comunicazione efficace“. copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in any language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact Dr. Daniele Trevisani.

Give your absence to who does not value your presence.
(Oscar Wilde) 

 

Empathy is a value and it generates value. Therefore, it is good to see what some of the indications from the world of research have to say about this. Empathy, practicing it well, requires a well-functioning mind1. This means for us, that the empathic communicator has to take care of himself, his health, the state of his mind, e.g. he/she must be rested, don’t abuse substances, eat and exercise – in short, we are dealing with athletes of communication and athletes of the mind. 

Of course, it can be argued that some psychotherapists manage to be extremely good at active listening and empathic even at the age of 80, or with a sick body, but let us not forget how much experience is supporting them, and therefore, let us do our personal homework diligently to find our best shape and have a body-mind that supports and helps us.  

Taking care of oneself helps empathy. Having personal, physical, bodily, mental, motivational energy helps empathy. If you don’t have energy, you will never really listen to anyone in depth. 

Other evidence: when the subject of active and empathic listening is a distress2, having a methodological school behind you, for example humanistic psychology, Bioenergetic Counseling, or others, is a helpful factor, because you are no longer alone in listening, you are only alone physically, but the presence of the ‘school’ helps you to proceed well. However much good will you have, having a school behind you gives structure, helps, supports morally. 

The ‘school’ can also be an association, club or group of people where people meet and discuss about methods and work, cases or models, and this discussion is of enormous professional enrichment. Whether it is a circle of leaders, a circle of Counselors, a training school, moments of “unwinding and realignment” like those of supervision are fundamental, even in the non-clinical context. Indeed, think how much better it can be in a company to have interviews with employees by a leader, knowing they have a Mentor and then being able to discuss them with a supervisor, rather than leaving them in the dark. 

Finally, an important reflection. Empathy is a concept that is interpreted in literature in many, sometimes incompatible ways3. 

The substantial distinction is between two extremes, an emotional type of empathy, which is primarily experience-centred, i.e. based on feeling and reflecting the feelings of the speaker, and a cognitive type of empathy, based on reflecting and understanding the reasoning of the speaker. 

Our vision is that empathy is a concrete form of mental presence in communication, a conversation in which the End State (point of arrival) to understand a person in their full physical, bodily, intellectual and emotional nuances. 

In our method, therefore, empathy must be both emotional and cognitive. It means being able to understand a situation or a piece of life from the point of view of the person who is experiencing it, and this requires shedding light on both emotional components (understanding emotions and their nuances) and reasoning (understanding values, beliefs, actions, structured thoughts). Only the union of the two components can lead to true empathy, at least as far as empathic listening is concerned. 

The empathic ‘way of being’, which means constantly living with attention and sensitivity to the emotions of others, is a different matter, but this is outside the scope of the technique of active and empathic listening and is certainly not to be condemned, but neither is it to be forced.  

I think it is right to leave it up to the free will of each person how to lead their lives. Certainly, however, when we enter into an active or empathic listening session, being able to tap into this sensitivity is needed. 

 

Difference between empathy and sympathy 

Empathy and sympathy must be distinguished. Empathy means to understand. For example in the company, to understand why a customer postpones a purchase or wants a low-priced product, why a customer arrives late for an appointment, whether it is because of strategy or real impediment, or why a customer tells us about a certain specific problem, what is behind it. Sympathy, on the other hand, means appreciating, sharing, agreeing. Selling requires the application of empathy and not necessarily sympathy. The same applies to a coaching, a counselling or a leadership interview. 

Active listening and empathy should not be confused with acceptance of others’ contents or values. A Decalogue of active listening is not to be confused with blind acceptance of other people’s content. These are merely methods of allowing other people’s thoughts to flow as freely as possible in order to gain openness and useful information. 

The phase of inner judgement on what we hear, which is inevitable during negotiation, must be ‘relegated’ to our internal processing, held for later stages of negotiation, and must not interfere with the listening phase.  

When our aim is to listen, we must listen. 

To do this we will have to: 

  • suspend our judgment; 
  • give signals of assent and presence (contact signals, phatic signals); 
  • try to stay connected to the flow of the discourse; 
  • ask questions whenever an aspect seems worthy of investigation; 
  • avoid ‘anticipating’ (e.g.: I am sure that you…) and avoid making statements that are ‘stances’; 
  • simply rephrase the key points of what the other person said; 
  • do not interrupt inappropriate. 

We should reserve our judgement or make clarifications only after having listened in depth and inside an appropriate negotiation frame. The aim of empathic techniques is to encourage the flow of other people’s thoughts, and to collect as many ‘information nuggets‘ as possible that the interlocutor can give. Empathy, if well applied, produces “empathic flow“, a flow of data, factual, sentimental, experiential information, of enormous usefulness to the negotiator. 

The opposite behavior (judging, correcting, affirming, blocking) breaks the empathic flow, and risks stopping the collection of valuable information prematurely.  

 

Few people think, but they all want to judge.
(King Frederick the Great) 

 

There is a moment when the negotiator has to stop the flow of the other person’s discourse (turning point) but in general it is good to let it flow, until one has really understood who one is dealing with and what the real objectives are, and all other necessary information. Empathic techniques are also helpful in curbing the premature tendency towards informational self-disclosure: the giving of information, the inappropriate or premature leaking of data about ourselves. Giving the customer information and data that could be counterproductive has a boomerang effect. Any information must be given with extreme caution.  

The empathic attitude is extremely useful in focusing the negotiator’s mental energies on listening to the other person and curbing our own inappropriate interference. 

Let us also remember another point. Listening is a gift. Giving the gift of listening, today, in a materialistic world, is among the most precious gifts one can give, provided that the person who has to be listened interests us and we want to give this gift. Human time is precious and limited, and listening well, takes time. For this reason, dedicating a moment of life to someone full of quality listening, and doing it with passion, must be done for work, or for love. 

 

“Loving means above all listening 

© Article translated from the book “Ascolto attivo ed empatia. I segreti di una comunicazione efficace“. copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in any language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact Dr. Daniele Trevisani.

The Four Distances model tells us about a variegated set of variables that affect communication and make it of excellent quality, satisfying, constructive, or bad, destructive and miserable.

It is good to start the more in-depth exposition of the model with an overall picture, and then move on to the analysis of each single point and each single “Distance”.

  1. The basis of the model dates back to the simple acknowledgment that:
  2. Man uses words to express himself (or signs, or gestures).
  3. The word is the representative of an idea, of a concept. Since the person cannot transfer the direct experience of what he does or feels and experiences, he is forced to use the word, or gesture or sign, with all the limits that it entails.
  4. The concept or idea is formed following contact with some aspect of reality, external reality (things, objects) or internal reality (emotions, moods), the so-called external referents.
    Every single living person carries out this process with differences, slight or large, giving rise to an interpersonal communication that opens up to many misunderstandings and intercultural misunderstandings.

This is in summary the representation of a thought that dates back even to the famous “Essay on Human Intellect” by John Locke, a 17th century British philosopher and physician, pioneer of the studies on language and communication [1]. Locke, for example, distinguished:

Ideas of sensation, those that come from external experience, from sensations such as, for example, colors. The formation of these ideas takes place from external objects, from which data come that are imprinted on that blank slate that is our sensitivity.
Ideas of reflection concern the internal experience or reflection on the internal acts of our mind such as thinking, the birth of ideas, doubting, wanting, etc.
The overall model can be represented as follows:

Figure 9 – 4DM – 4 Distances Model – Model of the Four Distances

the four distances model of intercultural communication

 

In this model, the distinction between Hard and Soft variables does not have to do with common perception (Hard = solid, concrete, and Soft = light or less important), but with the very nature of a variable. Both hard and soft variables are absolutely important.

The difference lies in their greater or lesser tangibility. Values ​​are something intangible, but the resulting behaviors are very tangible – for example, the abstract value of ecology gives rise to the concrete behavior of recycling paper, plastic and glass, among other things, and not polluting, so don’t we confuse the fact of being intangible with an alleged minor importance of a variable.

In a person, the number of years (age) will be a hard datum, and a soft datum (but much more important) the personality type, or even the personality state with which the person is living.

In fact, at a certain moment, I can communicate with someone and find myself – as Transactional Analysis shows, in a state of Parental personality, or Adult State, or Child State, with various sub-categories and nuances. This will affect how I communicate, on every front, what I say, how I say it, what distances I place with the person I’m interacting with, and what attitudes I use.

The state of consciousness can be counted among the hard components, although it may seem intangible. In fact, the brain frequencies associated with each state of consciousness are a physical datum and are measurable, and the state of consciousness then produces behaviors and physiological states, even partially directly observable.

In the Science of Neuro-Associative Programming ™ (PNA) [2] the phenomenon of the connection between a mental state (let’s say relaxation, or the activation of positive emotions) with an external state or performance, such as communicating in public, is concretely realized , intercultural communication, negotiation, sales, training or sports performance.

The essential thing is to understand in which mental state the greatest well-being for the person and the best performance for her are produced at the same time.

In intercultural communication, returning to the Fischer scale, certainly better results are produced by associating relaxation and sensitivity to the communicative act, while at the same time avoiding the onset of anxiety or altered negative states of consciousness.

This also applies to doctor-patient communication and any professional communication, including helping relationships such as coaching, counseling, psychotherapy and training.

[1] Locke, John (1960) An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. London, The Baffet.

The keywords of this article on Neuro-Associative Programming and Intercultural Communication are:

  • Analysis
  • Anxiety
  • Activation
  • Welllness
  • Wellbeing
  • Coaching
  • Active coaching
  • Experiential coaching
  • In-depth coaching
  • Scientific coaching
  • Behaviors
  • Behavior
  • To communicate
  • Communication
  • Intercultural communication
  • Counseling
  • Creativity
  • Deep Coaching
  • Effectiveness
  • Efficiency
  • Training
  • Active training
  • Corporate training
  • Active corporate training
  • Management training
  • Brain frequencies
  • Fisher Map
  • Model of the four distances of communication
  • To negotiate
  • Public speaking
  • Neogotiation
  • Life coaching
  • sports coaching
  • Business coaching
  • Performance
  • Human potential
  • Mental programming
  • Neuro-associative programming
  • Neuroassociative programming
  • Psychotherapy
  • Relaxation
  • Performance science
  • Altered states of consciousness
  • States of mind
  • States of consciousness
  • Altered states of consciousness
  • State of mind
  • State of consciousness
  • Values
  • Intangible values

To contact Dr. Daniele Trevisani


© Copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani, Studio Trevisani Consulting Training Coaching and Research, article extracted in editorial preview from the text “Neuro-Associative Programming™”, Franco Angeli publisher, Milan.

Bring out your own inner dialogue. Identity, State of Consciousness, Communication Situation (COMSIT) in Intercultural Communication

Communication implies an exchange of information and emotions. Reasoning about our identity asks us to shed light on our true nature, on our being. Transferring “who we are” to others is always difficult, as human complexity and the many roles and shades of personality that are part of us form a truly huge galaxy. We are atoms in an infinite aquarium of molecules, every now and then we try to stop and talk to each other, but we realize how difficult it is, both to stop and to talk to each other.

In intercultural communication it is very important to come to understand which part of our inner dialogue is emerging, which part we would like to share, and if “understanding deeply” is difficult, at least knowing is possible. This requires adequate exercises of focusing on the “multiple Selfs” that we carry within us. And how they communicate externally, that is, what part of us is emerging in intercultural communication. Is the “scientist” emerging, is the hero emerging, is the victim emerging, is the traveler or the researcher emerging? Which archetype guides me at a certain moment? And by which archetype is the other guided? This step is essential to know the possible D1, the role distances, and how these can impact intercultural communication.

“If understanding is impossible, knowing is necessary.” Primo Levi

Lack of communication can prevent us from making others understand what we would like to do, how we feel, what we really are, and what we could be.

A great source of incommunicability occurs when we ourselves have not made a clear picture of us, first of all about ourselves, about our being, about the boundaries of our mental space and our role in the world. I may not be able to correctly transfer information also because I myself have a blurred, uncleared representation of my Self. The communication that will come out will certainly be the bearer of doses of incommunicability, at the start.

The whole problem of life is this: how to break one’s loneliness, how to communicate with others. Cesare Pavese

Targeted Introspection has a name in psychology, it means Focusing. Focusing (both in the variant of emotional focusing – shedding light on emotions, and in informative focusing – clarifying data and facts), allows us to clarify – first of all to ourselves – what we want to convey, what we feel is important to convey, and what we want to happen as a result of our communication (communicative effect or result).

The issue of incommunicability leads us to ask ourselves what the possible “common ground” is, what “you and I” potentially have to share, what common interests we have or could have, what we could talk about.

The following principle speaks of this:

Principle 5 – Focusing on one’s identity and multiple roles, State of Consciousness and COMSIT

Intercultural communication becomes positive and effective the more:

  • people have practiced “focusing” on their own identity;
  • people have practiced focusing on their multiple life roles;
  • people understand with what role it is good to communicate and are consistent in doing so, given the COMSIT (Communication Situation) they have to face;
  • the person experiences the intercultural relationship in a positive role and within a “cognitive space” of pleasure, in a positive neurophysiological state of consciousness, connected to relaxation, and appropriate to the situation;
  • the people or a person accept each other (one accepts the other) in the specific role they have decided to put in place and represent during the interaction;
  • people play the right role in relation to the ongoing COMSIT;
  • people are looking for a “Common Ground” or common ground of role, identity and project and the possible necessary relational glue.

Intercultural communication becomes difficult or ineffective when:

  • people have not practiced “focusing” on their identity and this acts in the background but without awareness;
    people have not practiced “focusing” on their multiple life roles and therefore do not know exactly which role to play or stage the wrong role;
  • people do not understand with which role it is good to communicate and are not consistent in doing so, given the COMSIT (Communication Situation) they have to face;
  • the person experiences intercultural interaction with a negative role, within a “cognitive space” of malaise and in a negative neurophysiological state of consciousness dominated by anxiety and / or altered with respect to the situation;
  • people or a person do not accept each other (or one does not accept the other) in the specific role they have decided to put in place and represent during the interaction;
  • people play the wrong role in relation to the ongoing COMSIT;
  • people do not look for a “Common Ground” or common ground of role, identity and project, and they do not actively nourish the possible relational glue.

The map of our states of consciousness and altered states of consciousness is useful, as well as for well-being, to improve our communication

The Fisher Scale, or map of states of consciousness, highlights the position of any person, in the mental continuum between agitation and relaxation, up to the extremes of deep meditation (on the right) and hysteria (on the left), passing through states such as daily perception, anxiety, creativity and others.

It is a very important tool to understand where we are when we communicate interculturally

Figure 5 – Fisher’s map (map of states of consciousness) [1]

Varieties-of-conscious-states-mapped-on-a-perception-hallucination-continuum

Each position along the scale corresponds to a precise, scientifically measurable brain frequency.

Varieties of conscious states mapped on a perception-hallucination continuum of increasing ergotropic arousal (left) and a perception-meditation continuum of increasing trophotropic arousal (right). These levels of hyper-and hypoarousal are interpreted by man as normal, creative, psychotic, and ecstatic states (left) and Zazen and samadhi (right). The loop connecting ecstasy and samadhi represents the rebound from ecstasy to samadhi, which is observed in response to intense ergotropic excitation. The numbers 35 to 7 on the perception-hallucination continuum are Goldstein’s coefficient of variation (46), specifying the decrease in variability of the EEG amplitude with increasing ergotropic arousal. The numbers 26 to 4 on the perception-meditation continuum, on the other hand, refer to those beta, alpha, and theta EEG waves (measured in hertz) that predominate during, but are not specific to, these states. Source: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/324877864_The_Fractal_Limit_of_Human_Thought/figures?lo=1)

Anchoring the state of mind on the Fisher Scale

The work of Neuro-Associative Programming ™ consists precisely in anchoring a state of mind to a task or performance that we want to carry out in the best possible state. In this case, communicating interculturally will be more effective if done in conditions of relaxation rather than in a state of anxiety or agitation.

As I highlighted in the text “Psychology of Freedom” [2], Fisher in this pioneering work warns us: we are increasingly bombarded with information, but in some contexts, further increases risk saturation: further increases in the content of the data can not finding adequate correspondence in an adequate processing rate of these data.

In other words, when the input information is so many, so many that our ability to process them all progressively decreases, we risk slipping towards schizophrenic states [3]. This had been highlighted in the 70s, let alone now with the increase of channels and social media available.

The fact becomes even more complicated when, in addition to elaborating “normal” communication flows, intercultural differences are introduced to complicate everything.

From the scale it is clear that for daily health, every significant piece of life spent in a state of “agitation” or nervousness, should be accompanied by a state of recovery, tranquility and meditation. Definitely after, but even earlier in some cases as a moment of mental preparation (eg, preparation for a competition or an exam, or a strong intercultural negotiation).

The Fisher scale and its many possible teachings are becoming a factor of personal health. We should all know it, at least to make a daily mapping of how we are and readjust the game on the life situations in which we are.

But of this, we do not speak.

On the other hand, it is very easy to meet horoscopes of all kinds on national and public TVs.

Another indicator that our Semiosphere is full of filth and poor in meaning and knowledge that we would really need.

Our personal power lies in picking up the contents of our personal Semiosphere, working it, putting into it what is useful, throwing out the useless. It is time to fight, it is time to fight for these concepts, for us and for all the people we care about, and for a freer and cleaner humanity, and more capable of meeting different cultures without panicking.

____

[1] Roland Fischer (1971), A Cartography of the Ecstatic and Meditative States. In Science, Vol 174 Num 4012 26 November 1971.

[2] See bibliography

[3] From the original text “further increase in data content may not be matched by a corresponding increase in the rate of data processing”

© Copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani, Studio Trevisani Consulting Coach Training and Research, article extracted in editorial preview from the text “Neuro-Associative Programming ™”, Franco Angeli publisher, Milan

Keywords of the article on Neuro-Associative Programming and Communication

  • Analysis
  • Anxiety
  • Activation
  • Welfare
  • Coaching
  • Active coaching
  • Experiential coaching
  • In-depth coaching
  • Scientific coaching
  • Behaviors
  • Behavior
  • To communicate
  • Communication
  • Intercultural communication
  • Counseling
  • Creativity
  • Deep Coaching
  • Effectiveness
  • Efficiency
  • Training
  • Active training
  • Corporate training
  • Active corporate training
  • Management training
  • Brain frequencies
  • Fisher Map
  • Model of the four distances of communication
  • To negotiate
  • Performance
  • Human potential
  • Mental programming
  • Neuro-associative programming
  • Neuroassociative programming
  • Psychotherapy
  • Relaxation
  • Performance science
  • Altered states of consciousness
  • States of mind
  • States of consciousness
  • Altered states of consciousness
  • State of mind
  • State of consciousness
  • Values
  • Intangible values

 

To contact Dr. Daniele Trevisani