“When someone really hears you without passing judgment on you, without trying to take responsibility for you, without trying to mold you, it feels damn good!” Carl Rogers
The need to be understood is a vital aspect of meaningful connection between people. Feeling genuinely seen and heard by another is a profound healing experience that takes empathy to pull off. Empathy requires that one sits with another and shares the space of the other’s expressed vulnerability without judgment, defensiveness or the perception that something is wrong and needs fixing. It is key to reaching the root cause of conflict and to growing a relationship that is solid and resilient at its core.
Brene Brown’s video below provides clarity:
Empathy is a crucial skill to master when the communication with another is easy but it is life-altering to possess when there is anger, frustration, difficulty and challenges.
Here are four simple steps to develop empathy in your connection with others:
1. Listen without judgment. Allow yourself to enter into a third space of neutrality with the other person. Leave behind your biases and beliefs and suspend your judgments and interpretations of the other person’s communication. Simply be open be present and be curious. Be willing to hear the words as sharing from the heart.
2. In addition to listening to the ‘story’, tap into the emotions embedded in that ‘story’ and find out what the other person needs from an emotional perspective. Ask questions to get clear about what those emotions are.
3. Get closer than arm’s length emotionally. Allow yourself to resonate with the heart of the other person and fully attune to the feelings they are experiencing. Again, this is not about naming or judging or fixing – it is simply about sharing space as a quiet ally.
4. Express your understanding of the other person’s experience by feeding back what you felt, saw and heard as the truth of their sharing with you. Remember – this is about them and their feelings and not about you inserting your experience into the mix.
The bottom line in connecting with another in a spirit of empathetic awareness is that it takes practice to develop the skill; it requires courage to be with another in their vulnerability without losing connection; and it is necessary to be on the receiving end of empathy in order to fully understand the powerful and life-affirming impact it provides when someone listens to you wholly.
“Rarely can a response make something better.
What makes something better is connection.” ~ Brene Brown