Jesus had an amazing ability to see a person’s heart and their deepest needs – to understand things from their perspective. He could look beneath the surface of the matter (external) and see a person's heart (internal). He modeled the art of empathy.
Pay attention to people. Look beyond their words to what is happening on the inside. Slow down and stop talking. Listen. Observe. Place all of your energy in seeking to truly understand the other person’s thoughts and feelings. Try to understand the words and the implied message. Use your free mental time to observe, concentrate and evaluate the message. When you listen, you learn.
This takes effort as most people do not listen with the intent to understand; listen to nonverbal messages. Many messages people send are communicated nonverbally by their tone of voice, their facial expressions, their energy level, their posture, or changes in their behaviour patterns. You can often tell more from the way a person says something than from what is said.
This takes effort as most people do not listen with the intent to understand; You understand others by getting inside of them and seeing life from their perspective, through their eyes. This involves a tremendous amount of communication – of asking, sharing and listening. Seeing life through someone else’s eyes gives us a totally different perspective.
This takes effort as most people do not listen with the intent to understand. It is so easy to judge and to make wrong assumptions about people. When we truly seek to understand, we learn and we grow. This takes effort as most people do not listen with the intent to understand.
Here’s a good exercise - select a relationship in which things are not going too well right now. Try to understand the situation from the other person's point of view. If you were in their shoes how do you think you would be feeling or thinking? In your next interaction, listen for understanding, comparing what you are hearing with your reflections. How valid were your assumptions? Did you really understand that person's perspective?
Misunderstanding is usually at the heart of most relational pain. It often takes time to rebuild trust and help people feel safe enough to open up again. Practice the art of empathy today.