ERIC Number: ED199793
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Feb
Empathy and Assertive Communication.
Lane, Shelley D.
A review of communication research was conducted to (1) describe and clarify the nature of empathy, (2) investigate the construct of assertiveness, (3) posit a possible relationship between empathy and assertiveness, and (4) provide possible suggestions for future research. The literature indicates that conceptualizations of empathy primarily stress an orientation toward others, while assertive communication most often places an emphasis upon the self. Although first analyses indicate a negative relation between the two constructs, empathy and assertiveness do share some essential defining characteristics. Both constructs are conceptualized as ways to facilitate human understanding, both entail recognition of another individual's thoughts and feelings, and both involve the notion of appropriateness and flexibility in manifesting empathic and assertive communication. Some research even offers "empathic assertion" as a specific type of assertiveness to be used in appropriate situations. It appears that a threshold might exist whereby assertiveness and empathy are related linearly up to a point, after which highly empathic individuals lose sight of their own goals and exhibit nonassertive behaviors. Continued research into this relationship, as well as a curriculum in assertiveness and empathic caring for others' rights, may effectively improve some of the problems besetting contemporary society. (RL)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Western Speech Communication Association (San Jose, CA, February 14-18, 1981).