Empathy is transformational in relationships. Like any other skill, it can be mastered with practice and patience. Empathy requires figuring out what the other person is thinking and saying before you seek to be understood. Too many people are consumed by speaking first to make their point heard. The irony is that their point will fall on deaf ears unless they are willing to understand others first. We are often so busy trying to get people to see it our way that we don’t stop to listen to what they are saying.
Transformational empathy starts with this statement, “You go first.” Then, all you have to do is shut up and listen.
After they’ve shared, you say, “It sounds like … (repeat to them what you understood they were communicating to you).” Then they will either say, “that’s right,” or they will correct you and tell you what they really meant. Either way, you get to understand and also make them feel respected and understood. It’s a genuine win-win.
Try it. It’s a simple four step system.
- Say, “You go first.“
- Stop talking and listen.
- Say, “It sounds like … (repeat what you think they meant).”
- Stop talking and let them affirm or correct you.
Repeat as often as necessary. You can replace “It sounds like …” with “It seems like …” or “It feels like …” for variety.
To master transformational empathy, challenge yourself to use it with everyone in your life. Not only will you acquire the skill, but you will also enhance your relationships and influence.