Communication is the key to any successful relationship. Lack of communication can jeopardize years of affiliation, break the strongest of bonds, and infect your relationship like a termite. Thus, it is important to develop good communication and level of understanding with people, especially with the one you are considering to spend the rest of your life.
Many people are able to effectively communicate their needs to their better half, but fail miserably when it comes to listening. Presumably, they do not acknowledge the fact that communication is a two-way street, and listening is equally important perhaps a more vital element of a communication, which allows a relationship to thrive and remain intact.
Are you a good listener? Yes… maybe, but are you an empathetic listener? You must be wondering “What is empathetic listening?” Well, empathetic listening goes beyond simply hearing out a person. It is about really understanding what a person is saying without forming a judgment, allowing them to freely express themselves.
Empathy is about creating an emotional connection with another, understanding their feelings, learning their insights, and showing compassion. People make this mistake and confuse empathy with sympathy. While sympathy may make you feel ‘for someone’, empathy actually makes you feel ‘as someone’.
How To Become An Empathetic Listener?
Not everyone has the natural ability to perceive how others feel and listen with compassion and empathy, but that does not mean that you cannot develop the art of being an empathetic listener. These are some of the points that you should remember:
- When you are listening to a person, provide them your undivided attention. This means no multi-tasking, texting on phone, or working on your laptop, but leaving everything aside and listening to them carefully. Letting them know that their feelings are of paramount importance and your utmost priority can go a long way and create a big difference.
- Do not form a judgment or opinion. We tend to form an opinion and overthink the simplest things which create unnecessary complications. It may seem to us that we understand but we don’t. Listening without any preconceived notion is what makes listening effective and empathetic.
- Read the speaker’s emotions and body language. Do not solely focus on words, but try to understand what aggravated them to utter those words. They must be feeling hurt, angry, or perhaps resentful, thus it is only fair that you acknowledge their emotions and sentiments.
- Let them know that you understand. Active listening is one of the components of empathetic listening. Letting the speaker know that you understand their perspective and validating their feelings can be extremely reassuring.
- Just Listen. It may sound simple, but actually is the most critical element of empathetic listening. Sometimes a person just wants someone to be there for them to listen and want nothing else in return, no solution, no opinion, and no favor, but just a person to be there and listen to them. So consider listening with the intent of understanding rather than with the intent to reply.
These pointers may help you to become a better listener, help address issues in your relationship, and learn things that were previously left unsaid, but it is imperative that you listen to the person with genuine interest and compassion rather than for the sake of it to ensure that you are listening correctly and effectively.
Have you ever wondered why people are so comfortable when speaking to God? Because they know that God is mute and will listen to them without giving an advice, letting them figure out things by themselves. Being an empathetic listener is about providing freedom, a safe space for a person to talk an express their true self and vent out all the emotions that were trapped inside their heart.
How To Know If You Are An Empathetic Listener?
Well, if you are forming an opinion or judgment while the other person is speaking to you, then you are hearing, not listening, let alone being an empathetic listener. Thus, it is critical to resist the urge of framing a thought or response while the person is conversing so you can truly listen and understand what they are trying to communicate. Perhaps the word listen contains the same letters of silent for a reason.
Furthermore, in case a person has communicated their story and want your opinion, it is critical that you respond in a very sensitive and precise manner. Words are powerful, when articulated in a right way, they can alter someone’s belief and make a profound impact on their life. Thus, choose your words carefully. When a person communicates, they entrust you with their words and feelings, hence it is important that you assure them that they did the right thing and can talk to you again without having a second thought.
Good relationships don’t just happen out of nowhere but require patience and willingness of the person who wants to be together. Understanding and listening to your significant other will help you to maintain a healthy and thriving relationship. Connect with one of our counsellor today to help you in rediscovering yourself and make you a better, active, and empathetic listener.