How to listen emphatically and connect to people’s emotions

There’s a difference between being quiet and being a good listener. Good listeners listen emphatically.

It’s easy to think they are the same. Especially if you talk a lot.

The difference between listening and hearing is that listening is intentional

“Oh he’s always quiet when I talk” and you think he’s listening.

To be a good listener you need to train yourself to empathize with people because unless you do so; your interest is limited no matter who you are.

How we listen?

We naturally listen to what interests us, not just that, but at particular period in time.
Listening is more about being present. Focusing your mind with who you are having a conversation and what they’re saying rather than allowing it wander.

Else you only pick what sounds interesting, and worse completely giving your own suggestion or advice without paying attention.

It encompasses of more than the main sense organs; but also the heart.

It involves cultivating effective communication skills, both verbal and non-verbal. Learn to express yourself clearly while you actively listen to others, and build meaningful connections. Effective communication enables you to influence and inspire others positively.

How to Listen effectively: Emphatic listening

Empathic listening is so powerful because it gives you accurate data to work with.

Instead of projecting your own autobiography and assuming thoughts, feelings, motives and interpretation, you’re dealing with the reality inside another person’s head and heart.

You’re listening to understand. You’re focused on receiving the deep communication of another human soul. – Steve Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective People).

Listening is a skill

For you to be better, you have to practice. It takes practice to read faster and assimilate than normal; so is listening attentively.

Why is it hard to learn how to listen effectively? 

We spend years learning to communicate, read and write, how to speak but how about listening?

It may be a little uncomfortable, but learning to listening would largely influence your level of influence with others as it inspires openness and trust.

Why you should listen emphatically?

  • Achieve results as against winning arguments
  • Avoid negative misunderstandings.
  • Determine what people are really saying.
  • Influence people since they know you first are interested in them.
  • Resolve arguments faster and with compassion.
  • Be willing to give each other “space” instead of pressuring to resolve right away.
  • Build trust with more people
  • Attain emotional closeness and intimacy especially with a spouse.

Empathic listening allows you to connect to people’s emotions

Here’s a story from my Coach friend, Vikki Marsh on how listening to her daughter and letting her express her emotions influenced her behavior for good:

My daughter can be very selfish sometimes and I of course don’t want her to portray those traits as a “good mother” aught.

So yesterday she had been at after school care and she missed out on a prize because she went to guides. She found out her sister won the prize and was kicking up a fuss.

Normally I get annoyed because I don’t like that trait in her and tell her she shouldn’t think like that.

Yesterday I didn’t do any of that. I just let her know that I was listening and I said that I can see how disappointing that must have been for her and that it ok to feel disappointed. When we got home she had completely forgotten any of the fuss and told me she loved me about 4 times.

The old way she would have gone on and on about it all night likely ending in an argument. The new way she felt heard and accepted even though it wasn’t a deemed “nice” trait I didn’t reject her and so she could remain true to her child within because she felt accepted

It was a huge learning for me and almost shocked me at how different her behaviour was. It was such a small shift and had such a huge impact.


Do you listen to understand what people  are saying, or are you already thinking about what you’re going to say next to prove your point?

Start listening emphatically to become a better listener.

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