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Communicating with Empathy

Posted 05 November 2020
by Clare Davy

Empathy, the ability to see things from another person’s perspective, is fundamental to building trusting relationships. One of the most effective ways to demonstrate empathy is through the way in which we communicate. Communicating with empathy enables us to suspend judgement of others, move towards acceptance of differences, and ultimately, build better relationships.

Communicating with empathy takes effort and practice. Here are some ways to build empathy in your interactions with others:

Listen to connect

Let the person who is speaking finish what they are saying before you begin planning what your response will be. Often, we have a response ready before they have finished speaking.  By paying attention and really listening to someone, we hear their perspective rather than only hearing what we want to hear.

Say less, ask more

Come to the conversation prepared with questions rather than statements. This will demonstrate your desire to learn and collaborate with others.

Practise active listening

This simply means, as the listener, you fully concentrate, show you understand, respond accordingly and then remember what is being said.

Be vulnerable

Communicating with empathy makes us vulnerable because our opinions and perspectives may be challenged.

Treat people as being important

Simple things such as using someone’s name, make a big difference in making people feel valued and understood.

Focus your attention

Give the speaker your undivided attention. Demonstrate your interest and be fully present in the conversation.

Pay attention to body language

Use body language and gestures to show you are engaged.

Respond and acknowledge how people are feeling

Although this may be uncomfortable, it is important to identify and acknowledge the feelings and experiences of someone else. Failing to do this will make it difficult for you to reach any form of consensus or outcome.

The power of communicating with empathy is invaluable. Displaying empathy:

  • Demonstrates an understanding of the other person’s situation.
  • Enables us to connect with others by seeing things from their perspective.
  • Opens the way to create solutions that result in a win-win for everyone.
  • Allows for effective negotiation and collaboration.

Allegra Consulting acknowledges and pays respect to the past, present and future Traditional Custodians and Elders of this nation and the continuation of cultural, spiritual and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

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