Communicating with Empathetic Understanding
I have a slew of personal faults. Thankfully, empathetic understanding isn't one of them. I really try hard to put my point of view aside and to understand how others experience the world and what it's like to be them. It's a daily practice for me.
I think the reason this is so important to me is because I've spent so much of my life not feeling understood. For me, to feel understood is to feel seen, and to feel seen is to feel loved.
I've learned that many other people experience it that way as well. I've also learned that empathetic understanding has five parts: Slowing down, deep non-judgmental listening, signaling to the speaker that you're listening, being curious about what the speaker is telling you by asking open ended questions, and signaling that the speaker's experience is valid by providing validating statements.
Because our communication styles are learned in our family systems, often from parents that have learned unhelpful ways of communicating from their parents, many of us come to navigate relationships with the best of intentions yet a lack of useful communication skills to convey our intentions.
It's my hope that one day empathetic communication skills will be taught to school children, because after all, life is relational. Nearly every aspect of life requires us to have finely tuned skills for relating. Not teaching this to children is to fail to prepare them for the world and for love.
For those of us who never learned to use our words in ways that unite rather than divide in our family systems, there are thankfully options for learning how to love with language such as workshops, retreats, and therapy.
Please feel invited to join me in a workshop on the five parts to communicating empathetic understanding where we will learn the anatomy of empathetic communication, as well as how to use empathetic communication as a wellness practice that is sure to improve our relationship with ourselves and others, allowing us to feel seen, understood, and loved.