Listen and Respond with Empathy

According to the Interaction Essentials, the second principle to help a person meet other’s personal needs is:

Listen and Respond with Empathy.

Listening increases your understanding of how others feel and is a powerful way to build trust and improve communication. It’s only when you respond with empathy, however, that people know you understand both how they are feeling and why.

The ability to listen and respond with empathy is a communication skill that can enhance your workplace and personal discussions. It can help you learn how others are feeling and let them know that you understand, even though you might no necessarily agree.

Being heard is critical to our sense of self-worth and opens discussions well. We need to listen to the words that are spoken. Listening to the feelings behind those words leads to trust because we convey that we care about the situation and the impact on the individual.

When we hear the feelings, it helps to avoid jumping to conclusions and racing to judgment. Acknowledging the person’s feelings, as we provide feedback to the individual of our understanding of the facts given, presents the best opportunity for clarity and ultimately satisfactory resolution of the matter. Listening to words and feelings portrayed by tone, body language, agitation, and such, allows us to better understand the underlying meaning of the person’s statements.

Summing-up: Listen and respond with empathy is the key to open dialogue and effective conversation.

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