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Most simply stated, empathy is the ability to put oneself in another's shoes - and also the willingness to respond to the person's needs. I believe it's one of the most important components of a happy, healthy relationship. Lack of empathy is a very common problem with couples. Many people never learned how to be empathetic from their primary caregivers or weren't modeled empathy by other important people in their lives. The good news is - it can be taught.

Here are 5 steps to practicing empathic communication when discussing a difficult subject:

1) Listen without interruption as your partner describes his/her feelings about the subject.

2) Pause and imagine how your partner might be feeling.

3) Reflect back what your partner has said in regards to their feelings such as, "It sounds like you're saying you're upset because..."

4) Validate their feelings such as, "I understand that you're upset..." You don't have to get why - just allow them to have their feelings.

5) Offer support by saying something like, "Let's try to figure this out together."

This type of dialogue takes practice but the long term payoff of empathic communication is well worth it - and a key component of a strong relationship foundation.
 

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These are good tips which we would all do well to practice every day with our partners. It's so easy to brush your partner's feelings aside or not listen once you've been together awhile.
 

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Those are good tips. I really need to start practicing those, not just with my spouse, with my kids as well. I think these tips can apply to a lot of dift relationships.
 

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I will have to try that. I never feel Hubby understands anything I say. Maybe I need to practive emoathy before I can get empathy.
 

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Great pointers Lisa, thanks. Empathy is a great tool in developing great relationships. Casual and committed. Thanks.
:smthumbup:
 

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This is the exact advice our marriage counseling is trying to teach my wife and I. My wife feels like it's phony and I believe it will be the only way that the two of us will ever be able to talk. Every book I read says to, mirror, validate and than empathy. Then practice, practice, practice until it becomes second nature.

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:smthumbup: My relationship changed drastically once I learned how to be empathetic towards my H's struggles, even though his struggles hurt me at times.
 

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1) Listen without interruption as your partner describes his/her feelings about the subject.
A good listener is an active listener. Trial lawyers use active listening when they connect pieces of seemingly unrelated testimony to formulate questions and lure a witness into a damming admission. I'm not suggesting that you become devious but listening actively can help you better understand others and more importantly be able to make your case when communicating with others.

Some ideas that may help you to become a more effective listener are:

Focus on the person.
Look into their eyes and face. If you are busy doing something else not only will your mind wander, but the person you are talking to will get the feeling you don't really care about what they have to say. By giving the other person your complete attention you are confirming to them that what they have to say is important.

Ask questions.
To show you are focusing on the conversation, ask questions and keep the other person engaged. By taking an active part of the conversation you can help the other person find a solution to their problem or just let them know you care.

Remember the conversation.
Later that day or week, ask the person how they are and refer to the previous conversation. This will affirm to them that you were paying attention and you are concerned. Now, sometimes this will not be appropriate, but in most cases you will find that this is a great way to stay connected to people.

Most relationship problems both at work and at how could be avoided if people learned to communicate effectively. By learning to be an effective listener you are well on your way to becoming a good communicator.
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