Practicing these 7 steps with a genuine intention for understanding will go a long way in our ability to understand and to relate to someone\’s experience.

1. Make eye contact.

2. Ask questions (and really want to hear the answer). Try these:

  • How are you?
  • What has been going on for you?
  • What have you been up to?
  • What have you been thinking about?
  • How have you been feeling?

    3. Listen. It seems obvious, but we often think we are listening when instead we are formulating our response. Don’t talk. Don’t tell the other person how they feel. Don’t offer advice. Just listen.

    4. Empathize. Affirm their feelings. Whether you agree or disagree with the individual, how they feel is how they feel. It is possible to be a good listener and not necessarily agree. You don’t need to tell them why you don’t agree. Offer moral support. Here are some empathetic statements:

  • I hear you.
  • I would feel the same way.
  • That sounds _____.
  • I understand how you feel.
  • Tell me more.

    5. Wait. Usually the person will give you a sense of what they would like from you. All they may have wanted was for you to listen. Or they may ask: What do you think? What would you do? as a way to solicit advice. Or they may have more to share. Keep listening. And in case you haven’t seen it, this video always makes me laugh, as it pokes fun at a man’s desire to problem solve and a woman’s desire for listening.

    6. Share. Vulnerability is a two-way street. Connection doesn’t occur unless both people are willing to be vulnerable. You can’t have all the benefits of connection without being vulnerable yourself. Connection develops when you let yourself be seen. If you aren’t sure what to say, tell them you don’t know what to say. We don’t want perfection. We want authenticity. We want you next to us in the arena. Get uncomfortable.

    7. Compliment. Compliments are only powerful if they are genuine. We often hold back from offering compliments because we think the person already knows the trait we admire. Maybe. Maybe not. Offering a compliment can make someone’s day.

    reblogged from Lorena Knapp\’s website Big State, Big Life: Tools for mindful living.

    by Lorena Knapp