January 30, 2013
According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, empathy is defined as, the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner. In accordance with empathy, empathetic listening is defined by a way of listening and responding to another person that improves mutual understanding and trust. It is absolutely essential for the listener to receive and accurately interpret the speaker’s message, and then provide an appropriate response. According to Salem (2003), “There are a few key benefits to empathetic listening which include the ability to build trust and respect amongst one another, enabling the person to release their emotions, reduce stress within one another, encourage the surfacing of information that would otherwise be ignored, and last but not least the ability to create a safe environment that is conductive to collaborative problem solving.” Throughout engaging in empathetic listening the listener lets the speaker know, “I understand your problem and how you feel about it and I am interested in what you are saying, without judging you.” These feelings are conveyed by the listener through non-verbal cues and body language. Eye contact and not interrupting are very important in letting the speaker feel safe and understood. Paraphrasing is also an effective way to have them feel able to release their emotions and dive deeper into the problem, because it shows you understand what they are going through and builds rapport and trust in the relationship. Richard Salem (2003), “The use of empathy and listening skills, empathic listening, usually leads to great, long lasting relationships, emotional...