When it comes to listening, we do it all day long. We listen to music, the news, the sounds of our environment, and to those we love. Listening is an all day, everyday thing. Being a good listener is an important trait to have. People gravitate to good listeners who make them feel understood. Those who stand out most share one thing in common– their empathy.
As travel bans have lifted, more people are vaccinated, the holidays are likely to have you visiting family and friends. Everyone has a story about their life experiences this past 18 months. Many people are craving to be heard. If you want to make a difference, you can be more empathetic and these tips will help you hone in on this skill.
Empathy makes all the difference when it comes to being a good listener. Empathy can take many forms depending on the nature of the conversation. There’s no cookie cutter way to be empathic but reading the situation and meeting people where they are helps. Here are some creative ways to use empathy that make all the difference in your listening style.
Show empathy with your presence- Some people don’t want or need to have their problems solved they simply want someone to listen. You can show your empathy by spending time with someone who needs to process. Simply making yourself available to listen to someone going through a tough time can make a big impact on their life. Your willingness to be there for them may be the difference that gets them through.
Show empathy with your stories- Sometimes empathy looks like a personal connection. Sharing a story that helps people feel understood or connected can make a big impact. When appropriate, sharing a story of a time you’ve experienced something similar or solved a similar problem can help people relate and feel less anxious. Remember, the best use of sharing stories is when it enhances the situation rather than steals the focus.
Show empathy with your encouragement- When people are stressed it helps to feel encouraged. Listening to someone and showing empathy for them through encouragement is a loving thing to do. You may not have all the answers to their problem but encouraging them can uplift them and give them the strength to do what they need or face their fears.
Show empathy with your eyes- Non-verbal communication is powerful. Listening doesn’t just happen with the ears. You can show your empathy for someone by looking them in the eyes, nodding, uttering understandings, and light touch when appropriate. Using non-verbal cues that encourage them to keep sharing and show you are listening really help.
Empathy makes all the difference when you truly want to connect and reflect how much you care. Listening to someone share their concerns, worries, or troubles is one of the kindest things you can offer. Using empathy enhances the experience for everyone and helps build healthy communication and lasting relationships.
Anne McGurty is a business strategist specializing in creating systems and structures for the creative entrepreneur. She is also a PMP, Project Management Professional, with over 30 years of experience working with corporations and small businesses to improve communication, identify risks, and manage outstanding issues and help keep projects on schedule, adding value, saving time, and money. Anne is passionate about the role of a consultant and coach to her clients and brings a healthy, life balance perspective to her approach as she is a thriving cancer survivor.