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Practicing Empathy

Well-being Journey -

We all have our good and bad days where sometimes just listening is beyond us. While we may try to hide our true feelings, remember others may also be having a hard time and need someone to be there for them. Here are a few tips to be that person for others:

Listen Actively

Empathic Listening is a dynamic and compassionate process that calls for more than taking in someone else's words. You're communicating with that person as well. You're showing that you care about them, their thoughts and feelings, and are willing to take the time to hear them out. To use empathic listening, listen patiently to what the other person has to say, even if you do not agree with it. It is important to show acceptance, though not necessarily agreement.

Withhold Judgement

Try to approach the situation with curiosity for the other person's point of view. When one is judging another before fully listening, they tend to interrupt. This should be avoided, as it will only frustrate the speaker and limit your ability to understand.

Don't interrupt – hold any questions or attempts to relate until they've finished talking.

Give feedback – nod, make noises that encourage them to continue, and avoid fidgeting. Paraphrase and reflect – summarise what the other person has said to ensure you are understanding and show that you're listening.

Be Understanding

Show that you are sympathetic to their story and get where they are coming from by thinking first, speaking second; say less and mean more; use appropriate non verbal communication.

Show empathic body language

Be aware of your facial expressions, eye contact is a powerful non verbal cue showing your attention and empathy. Eye contact shows connection and conveys trust and respect. Eyebrows express empathy really well when shifted upwards slightly to signal concern. Use your voice appropriately as it is not just what you say but how you say it that evokes empathy. Have an open body posture that is inviting with uncrossed arms and unclenched fidgety hands.

Practice Mindfulness

Put away distractions such as digital devices. Be honest and in the moment, make another time if you cannot focus. Be there for the person now and later. Set an intention to listen mindfully. Think ‘kindness’ and feel it before speaking.

Ask open ended questions

‘How is this situation affecting you?’; ‘How is this preventing you from your goals/succeeding/training?’; ‘What do you think would be the ideal outcome?’; ‘What have you learnt in the past that may be appropriate here?’; ‘How can I work with you to support you?

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