Be Positive – Listening to Your Friends With Empathy

September 4, 2011

How can I be positive if everything is wrong? Sometimes life
just doesn’t come together the way we imagine it coming together. Without
empathy, there can be no real love, compassion, kindness, or friendship. Poor
empathy is a core problem in friendships; without it, nothing good is likely to
happen. With it, even the toughest issues can be resolved.

Responding with empathy requires being present and available
to friendship in a way that’s not ordinary. Ordinarily, we listen from a place
of agreement or disagreement, from approval or disapproval, from advice or
indifference. Developing and fostering a lasting friendship requires an empathetic listening. That’s a muscle well worth developing.

Empathy gives you a feeling for what it’s like to be another person.  It’s listening and responding in a way that is soothing, calming, and bridge-building.  When empathy is present, it’s much easier to work through things. Empathy gives you lots of useful information, like what’s most important to a girlfriend or what’s really bothering her.

It’s so easy to see empathy as agreement or approval. Rather it’s tuning into someone, especially when they hurt or irritate you –  and listening in a new way, without becoming defensive.  It doesn’t mean you have to agree…but that you are working to understand why they feel the way they do.  And when we do that, we can often provide a different, more helpful kind of feedback.

Where have you exercised an empathetic ear and reaped the benefits? Thank you in advance for sharing with us all.

— Margaret

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