1. Provide your summary of how to listen empathetically. Summary of how to listen empathetically First of all, in order to listen empathetically to someone else you have to know yourself, be very caring, open minded and have the ability to put yourself in their shoes. Kerem et al. (2001) states that, “Empathy goes literally to the heart of the matter. It is understanding and entering into another’s feelings, a sense of shared experience, including emotional and physical feelings. Empathy is validation of the experience of another (as cited in Alberts, et al, 2009).” Donley (2013) states that, “Empathetic listening is about uncovering and experiencing for yourself what other people are experiencing. Remember, you don’t have to agree; just step into their shoes to see the world from their perspective.” She has developed the following three steps to mastering the skill of empathetic listening:
1) Give the person your full attention. Do not multitask. Create the space and time you need to be able to listen completely.
2) Don’t talk while the other person is talking. Your job is to hear what they are saying and listen for the heart of the message, what’s going on behind the words. Be curious. What is the point they are trying to make? What do they want you to know? What do they need from you? Only speak to ask questions that will clarify what you are hearing so that you can better understand them, and so they can better understand themselves.
3) Summarize what you heard. If you didn’t hear correctly or completely, let the person provide additional information and then repeat your understanding of what they have said.
2. Next, explain what it was like for you to actually practice listening empathetically. What went well? What was challenging?
Empathetically Listening Sessions
I conducted two different empathetically listening sessions. My first session was with my brother-in-law Dennis and the next was with my girl friend Lori. I explained to both of them that I had to do an assignment on how to listen empathetically. I followed the three steps to mastering the skill of empathetic listening by Donley (2013) to structure my sessions. This helped me tremendously with staying focused. The things that went well in both sessions were, I had great cooperation and had plenty of time to accomplish this task, the sessions were done in a comfortable location and I was able to give them my full attention, I was able to listen to both of them without worrying about something else or multitasking, and I was able to summarize what they told me.
I had more challenges in the first empathetically listening session with Dennis because this was the first time that I conducted this type of session and I found out pretty quickly that I had developed some bad habits. I had a hard time being quite and listening, I interrupting him with my own ideas and thoughts, and sometimes I would focus on solving his problem rather than simply listening. My second empathetically listening session went a lot better with my girl friend Lori because I was able to learn from the first session. I stay focused and did not interrupt her, let her tell her story, and I would only speak to ask questions that would clarify her story. My challenges with her in this session were really at the end of her story. She really surprised me because she became very emotional in the telling of her story, so it was hard for me to answer her at the end of her story and provide her with an epithetical answer and summarization.
3. Describe how listening empathetically seemed to affect your conversations. Affects of listening empathetically on my conversations In my session with Dennis I noticed that by listening empathetically to his story it definitely had an affect on our conversation. He was able to be more open with me and that allowed him to express his emotions while telling his story. We have always had a great connection between the two of us because of our similar backgrounds and being combat veterans. So, it was very easy for me to put myself in his shoes and see his perspective.
Because I was paying more attention to the discussion, I had a better understanding of the subject, and I was more open to react to his emotions and genuine concern for the subject, which in turn changed my own emotional tone. In my session with Lori we ended up talking about a very sensitive subject for her. I noticed that it was harder to see her perspective because of our differences in backgrounds and gender Alberts, et al (2009). I truly listened to her empathetically and it made us develop a stronger connection between the two of us. This totally changed my emotional state and at the end of our session I was able to relate to her situation, summarize our conversation and give her some positive feed back and comfort.
4. Describe what you have learned about the importance of empathetic listening as it relates to your interpersonal effectiveness. The importance of empathetic listening as it relates to my interpersonal effectiveness By learning how to become an empathetic listener I have acquired another tool in my tool box for interpersonal effectiveness. I will be able to sharpen my interpersonal effectiveness components of mindfulness and emotional intelligence by using empathetic listening Alberts, et al (2009).
I will do this by using the component Mindfulness and incorporating empathetic listening which will assist me in focusing on the moment and giving people my full attention during a conversation. In the component Emotional Intelligence I will incorporate empathetic listening to allow others to express their emotions and be more open to me so I can relate to them on more than one level. This will help me build better relationships, trust, and cooperation Donley (2013).