Empathy in Communication

If you want to improve your relationship with your children, your spouse, your coworkers, or anyone else, learn to acknowledge their feelings before attempting to “fix” their problem. Many times, when we hear someone’s problem, we respond immediately, starting with, “You know what you should…” or “Here’s what I would do…”

In our eagerness to help, we forget what’s truly important – acknowledge how they feel. At best, people are only partially ready to hear you. Worst-case scenario, they feel like you’ve shut them down when you fail to acknowledge how they feel. There’s a truism – people don’t care what you know, until they know that you care.

Before making any suggestions, take just a moment and ask yourself, “How is this person feeling right now?” Then, reflect what it is you are hearing from them. For example, you might say, “You sound frustrated,” or “You seem sad about that,” These are simple, but powerful observations. And it works perfectly and effectively for everyone, from children to CEOs, because it is our human need to feel understood.

First make the connection. That’s what communication is all about.