empathy training & coaching

nature of connection by michael blech

We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes and they come back to us as effects. Hermann Melville


As social beings, we humans long for enriching and fulfilling relationships. These have a significant impact on our physical and psychological quality of life. In addition, our personal relationship with ourselves determines how we experience the world around us and how we go about our life. This raises the question: What enables and boosts connection with myself and others? To be in “natural connection” with myself and my fellow human beings means to be in empathic contact with my inner nature. Then my mind has a valuable partner: By following the wisdom of my heart, I can unfold my inherent and individual potentials. Not only does my own life flourish, it also enriches the people around me and lets a world of respectful togetherness at eye level grow. By opening authentically, sharing with them and letting them participate in my life, I also invite them to support me on my own path. In doing so, I live self-responsible and can experience an undreamt-of freedom and inner peace. The wilderness of everyday life gets more and more clear: I can overcome old patterns of thinking, habits and judgments and thus the walls that stand between me and my fellow human beings.


Whether in a professional or private context: A connection with ourselves and others based on empathy, mindfulness, appreciation and responsibility ...

… releases inherent potentials
… creates clarity about underlying motives
… brings freedom by outgrowing old habitual patterns
… boosts the ability to act and self-empowerment
… creates lightness and inner peace
… nurtures authenticity and integrity
… enables active listening
… enables effective communication
… makes understanding possible even when faced with interpersonal barriers
… transforms conflicts into opportunities of growth
… creates relationships and communities at eye level
… creates sustainable solutions through cooperation
… promotes a universal social change

work philosophy

nature of connection is a symbiosis of attitude and methodology. The focus of the coaching and training is on both. This starts at the elemental level: Both dimensions consist of four individual elements, just like the natural elements of fire, water, air and earth. These can be specifically experienced and trained. This holistic approach enables a comprehensive and sustainable transformation process.

4 elements of attitude

We express our inner attitude through our patterns of thought, our language and our actions. If we want to change the latter long-lasting, it is important to grow at the core. By sensitizing and consciously living the four elements of mindfulness, empathy, appreciation and responsibility, we create the foundation for an authentic and natural connection with ourselves and our fellow human beings. This attitude is based on a positive, humanistic and inclusive worldview. Old one-dimensional concepts of “right” and “wrong” as well as “good” and “evil” are left behind. We live a life beyond demands, criticisms, judgments as well as guilt and shame. The focus is on our needs and thus the origin of our actions. We shape these in such a way, that we fulfill our needs in cooperation with others. This can not only lead to a mutual and sustainable solution in general, but especially also in conflicts.

This term refers to the ability to connect with one’s own feelings and needs or those of another person. It is an active process of empathic understanding. The form of empathy that I sensitize in my coaching is also characterized by a general goodwill towards the other person. When we connect empathically with another person, our presence is completely with that person and we don’t have any own intention beyond that. Words and gestures are in this respect only used  in order to confirm or deepen the connection. Virtually all human beings have the capacity for empathy from birth, but it can remain underdeveloped due to a lack of experience in childhood. Through regular training and practice, it is possible to enhance this ability.

Mindfulness is a form of attention, which focus lies on the present moment. By being mindful, we are connected with all our senses and can perceive what is: we connect with ourselves and the world. Because of our upbringing and conditioning we are trapped in automatisms most of the time, without being able to fully perceive the experience at a moment. This has a decisive effect on our quality of life – in difficult times as well as in pleasant ones. Neuroscientific studies have shown, that  it is possible to develop this ability and to restructure the corresponding brain areas long-lasting.¹

¹Source: Bolz, Matthias (Hrsg.)/Singer, Tania (2013): Compassion. Bridging Practice and Science. Munich: Max-Planck-Gesellschaft.

Often a not life-serving understanding of responsibility prevents a connection to ourselves and our fellow human beings. We deny our own and/or accept the responsibility of others. We refer to duties, obligations and norms. We also believe that other people are responsible for our feelings and vice versa. We can only be responsible for what we really have control over. We are therefore responsible for our own intentions and goals, thoughts and interpretations, feelings and needs as well as our actions (including non-action). We cannot be responsible for the reaction of others in response to us. But how we react to this counter-reaction is again fully in our power. We shape our lives in an active and independent manner by accepting our own responsibility and allowing others to assume theirs.

Unfortunately we have often adopted patterns of manipulation through our upbringing, conditioning and life experience, that prevent us from taking good care of ourselves. We shape our relationships in terms of a “power over” principle and don’t meet other people at eye level. Even if we can manage a loving way of dealing with someone else, we usually have a hard time doing the same with us. Destructive thinking patterns and continuous comparison with our fellow human beings cut us off from our own inner beauty and source. When we develop and nurture a respectful and loving relationship with ourselves and others, we are able to draw strength from abundance. A strength that serves us to pursue our path of life.

4 elements of methodology

Our way of speaking is a reflection of our inner attitude. There is an interdependence between both dimensions and one can influence the other. Nonviolent Communication as it was developed by Dr. Marshall B. Rosenberg offers simple and practical methods for recognizing our own destructive ways of thinking and acting. It trains our ability to separate our interpretations from actual observations, to sense feelings and needs as well as to express them directly in form of a specific request. Emphatically perceiving and taking into account the feelings and needs of others is just as important. The methodological process of understanding and communicating consists like the attitude dimension of four basic elements: observation, feelings, needs and request.

The observation refers to the stimulus that triggered a reaction in our body. When we address this trigger, we describe what we actually perceived with our senses. This distinguishes between our observation on the one hand and our evaluations, interpretations, comparisons, analyzes and conjectures on the other. The goal is to create a basis for a dialogue that both sides can agree on. We can recognize our share in a conflict when we are aware of our evaluations and interpretations.

We have feelings in response to a trigger and we can physically experience and express them. They indicate whether and which of our needs have been met in a particular situation. We have pleasant feelings when our needs are met, whereas we experience unpleasant feelings when this is not the case. Other people and their actions are therefore never the real cause of our feelings.

Needs are the driving force of our lives. Every action is an attempt to fulfill one or more of them. They are universal and all people share the same needs. However, these are fulfilled or unfulfilled to varying degrees at a particular moment. How we interpret a situation is already influenced by our respective needs. Our well-being, our health and our survival depend on how well we care for our needs.

As much as needs are universal – the strategies of people in order to fulfill them are very different. The clearer we are about our respective needs alive, the more  precise we can choose which strategy is the most effective. A request is much more effective than a demand. A demand automatically provokes resistance, whereas a request represents an invitation that respects the need for self-determination of the other. Ultimately, it’s about finding a solution that takes into account the needs of both sides and therefore is mutually acceptable. A request becomes effective in that it is expressed in a positive, concrete, doable and present-related way.