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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

6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 4, 2011 10:04 am

    Learning to be empathetic in listening has really helped me in business as well, for developing a relationship instead of being just another salesperson. Thank you for your awesome words Margaret and Diane!

  2. September 5, 2011 7:02 am

    Thanks Margaret,
    You did a great job in describing how to be a friend with empathy.

  3. MargE Bhola permalink
    September 5, 2011 10:10 am

    This was a great post today. I was just struggling with how to continue to be empathetic when I felt like I had no more to give. It’s easy to become righteous and this was a great reminder that everyone deserves some extra kindness.

  4. September 5, 2011 11:58 am

    Hi Margaret,

    Thank you for this wonderful post. It’s good to be reminded of empathy. In this world of me and mine, we are often neglectful in our listening. Empathy requires selflessness, and the ability to care.

    Recently, I had the oppotunity to excercise this “muscle”. I was listening to someone talking about parenting challenges and in this situation it is easy to point fingers, form an negative oppinion or simply shut down. However, I chose to listen with an open heart. This mother thanked me again and again for just listening-without judgement.

    I am blessed to have people in my life who demonstrate an empathetic way of listening when I need it the most.

    • September 7, 2011 10:39 pm

      Thanks for sharing and inspiring, Patrice. Listening without judging is an art!

    • September 18, 2011 8:48 am

      Thank you for the feedback Patrice. I am usually very hard on myself and therefore find myself being “hard” on others as well. Empathy is a great practice for me to take on daily. This is my year of Gratitude so I think empathy will help me experience gratitude even more. Margaret

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