Being an empathic person means you are able to put your shoe inside of others, and deeply understand their perspective and feelings. And in order to show empathy, you need to start being an empathic listener. Empathic listening is a technique that allows you to understand the speaker's emotions. It provides a safe space to work through emotions, regardless of how complicated they may be.
As mentioned before, showing others that you are an empathic listener can provide a safe space for emotions to work no matter how difficult the issue is. Being an attentive listener is good, but to be empathic when listening to someone is better, because it increases the chances to help someone and enhance your relationship with them.
There are several ways on how to improve yourself to be a better empathic listener.
It might be difficult to do, but in order to become more empathic when you listen to someone, you need to ignore your own opinion and focus more on acknowledging the speaker’s point of view. This does not mean agreeing with what they say, but it means you are affirming their emotions.
Your body language can show others whether you are listening or not, so be mindful of how you act. Engage in eye contact, lean more towards the speaker, and nod to show that you are indeed listening to what they are saying. Refrain from putting your attention somewhere else than the speaker. These nonverbal cues are important for you to be a better empathic listener.
When someone is expressing their emotions, refrain from cutting in during them speaking. Interfering with the speaker might show that you are not interested in what they have to say and how they feel about the topic. You need to remember that your purpose is to create a safe space for them and give them emotional support.
So, instead of interrupting the speaker and inserting your opinion, you refer to what they are saying by paraphrasing their sentence. It is more than just repeating what they are saying because paraphrasing changes the structure and words of the sentence. This shows the speaker that you listen because you remember what they are saying, and doing this can also help showing you are affirmative of their feelings.
You might feel awkward and disturbed when there is silence in between the talking, however, having it is better than having you to speak over it. Being empathic does not always mean you have to respond to what the speaker is saying. That is why you need to pay attention to the context of the speaker’s words. They might have not finished with what they are saying, and need some time to process their own emotions. Aside from that, you can use the silence to remember the things they have said and keep yourself in check.
Practice To Be Better
That is 5 ways you can learn to be a better empathic listener. But only knowing how is not enough, you need to practice it in order to get better. So, start using these skills in your everyday conversation, and improve your relationship with the people in your life.