Counselor Shares 3 Steps to Give the Gifts: Listening, Understanding, and Empathy

The Gift of Listening: Better Relationships

Listen, Mirror, Empathize

I say we can make our worlds better by giving the gift of truly listening to each other.

KEEP QUIET

This allows the other to talk uninterrupted.  In other words, shut up and pay attention.  An occasional, “Really?” or “Uh huh” is okay, but no adding your story, trying to fix the problem or even trying to make the other person feel better.  This gives the person speaking, the joy of telling about her experience and/or the chance to think things through more clearly.

MIRROR

This technique gives the speaker a chance to hear herself back.  It often allows another layer of her experience to surface and allows her to go deeper in her emotional process.  Simply fill in the sentence,  “What I heard you say was ….”  Fill in one or more things that stood out for you that she said.  Try it and you’ll be amazed at the responses you will get.  The person may say, “Yes! That’s it” or she may nod her head with an expression that tells you she knows you understood her.  Either feels great.

Oh, did I mention that this makes you feel good as well?  We get the good feeling of gratitude from those we listen to and he or she will actually like us more.  Haven’t you noticed that you like people who are interested in you, who let you share, and care about your life?  Give the gift.  Get the gift.

REFLECT THE EMOTION

This shows that you care about what the person is sharing.  For a lot of people this is the easy part and keeping quiet is the hard part.  Fill in the sentence, “I imagine that made you feel ______.”  Pick an emotion that you sensed such as competent, respected, lonely, or unappreciated.

Now you have fulfilled some very basic human needs which are to be listened to, understood, and empathized with.  This is the foundation of all healing in all relationships.  Discussions can now go on as usual.  “Well let me tell you about what happened to me…”

Thanks for listening. Be well, Susan

About Susan Miner