Empathic Communication

Post copyright by Doris McCraw

Doris

I try to practice what I call empathic communication. When I am in a conversation with someone, it is about listening not only to their words, but the feelings behind what they are saying. Then I work to remember what they said to have a point of communication with them in the future.

As I’ve spoken of before, there was major damage to homes in my neighborhood. The residents have been unable to resolve their issues with the water district, county and insurance. No one is taking any responsibility for their part in the event. I spoke with a young man who lives down the street while he raked leaves for me. He said he wasn’t allowed to go downstairs due to asthma and the possibility of mold due to water damage. He then said his mother went down there to do the laundry. You could hear the concern in his voice for her.

A friend is now in life care. She had a second stroke and it paralyzed her vocal cords. She does attempt to have conversations with me. I hope it is because I work to understand what she is trying to say. Now lest you think I am a saint, this is what I was trained to do. I spent twenty years working with juvenile delinquents, and if there is ever a need for communication, true understanding behind the words it is there. They are so used to hiding their selves from others it is hard to get through.

The other part of empathic communication is truly listening and not judging. Listening without thinking of what you are going to say next. Give the speaker your undivided attention. Honor them with a pause before answering. Many people feel they are not important because no one listens to them.

So the next time you have a conversation, give the speaker the gift of empathic communication. It will pay off in the end.

On a lighter note, Nov 24 I will have a short story in the anthology “Christmas Knight” from Prairie Rose Publications.

Originally from the mid-west, Doris now calls the Rocky Mountains her home. Doris is a writer, historian, actor,and teacher. An avid reader Doris loves to spend time in history archives looking for the small, unknown pieces of history. Many times these pieces end up in her stories or poems.

A photographer, Doris also writes haiku and combines them with her photography.
In here spare time she writes/casts and performs with a local murder mystery company.

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“NEVER HAD A CHANCE” , second in the Agate Gulch stories, in the Prairie Rose Publications “A COWBOY CELEBRATION” anthology http://amzn.to/1GzwJhw

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HOME FOR HIS HEART the first in the Agate Gulch stories. http://amzn.to/1GJhpSu

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Photo and Poem:http://bit.ly/1dVnNwO
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28 Responses to Empathic Communication

  1. jenanita01 says:

    nowhere near enough listening going on in this world today, so many things could be avoided if people took the time to hear all the things that are not said but are audible anyway.

    Like

    • Doris says:

      You are correct. I’m not sure why, but I have the feeling electronic communication has not helped the situation. Maybe people are afraid of feelings, or they never learned how to listen? I do know it is something we need to be conscious of. Doris

      Liked by 1 person

      • jenanita01 says:

        It is something to be encouraged, but how?

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      • Doris says:

        It may start with just saying Hello to someone, listening when you ask how they are. I try to be a role model, and sometimes it works. I know the children I worked with in detention, some of them got it and continued on to better things. Perhaps if we started insisting on being heard, not just ignored it might help. I do know we need to keep trying. Doris

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  2. Reblogged this on L.LEANDER BOOKS and commented:
    Are you a good listener, or do you talk without listening? Author Doris McCraw writes about the subject in her post on Writing Wranglers and Warriors. Thought I’d share it in case it might cause you to think. It did me!

    Like

  3. I guess you wrote this about me, Doris? lol I didn’t realize (until lately) that although people tell me I’m a fun person to talk to, that I was always talking about myself! Although I’m sure they don’t mean to, (especially me) those with Bipolar tendencies tend to talk and not listen. I have been trying very hard for the last year to rectify that. Although I still find myself occasionally taking over the conversation, I am learning to step back, close my mouth, and open my ears. It’s amazing what you find out about other people, current events and the world in general when you take the time to listen. I’ve reblogged this because I think it’s a very important subject for people to understand. Do you mind if I share this with my Mental Health Group meeting? There are others that I’m sure would be interested. Thank you for reminding us all that to listen is a virtue!

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    • Doris says:

      Linda, please feel free to share this. I didn’t know that about Bipolar. Thank you for sharing. I am also glad you’ve had the chance to find how rewarding taking the time to do this can be. Here’s to many other encounters that are shared. Doris

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  4. I remember learning about empathy in college when I was required to take a class in interpersonal communications as part of my music therapy training. Although I’m no longer practicing, I try to be mindful of others during conversations. By the way, congratulations on the publication of your story.

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  5. Doris says:

    Abbie, I’m glad they teach empathy in conjunction with music therapy. Music can bridge so many problems, but add the empathy and wow. I’m so glad to hear others are using this skill. It warms my heart.

    Also thank you for the congratulations on the story. It was a fun one to write. Doris

    Like

  6. Wranglers says:

    I love this blog. I’m so bad about thinking of what I’m going to say next. I will practice listening. Empathy is a great thing. It sounds like you are really listening and caring. I’m so sorry for the damage you had. Great news on your story.

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  7. Mike Staton says:

    Empathy for the other guy. As you said, not just listening but also sensing the emotions behind the words. Nowadays, people talk past each, spouting their views, not listening or respecting what they’re hearing. I’m a marketplace of ideas person… I hate to censure. Yet I see stuff on FB that I’ve come close to unfollowing. That’s very much against my principles. Yet I’m sick of the hatred being spewed nowadays. Words can hurt others, rather spoken or written. For example, every time someone writes libtard, it cuts me, wounds me. Obviously, it’s a shortened word for liberal retard. I’ve a Down’s syndrome uncle who recently passed away; sometimes I think those libtard-saying people when they were 14 must have pointed at Down’s syndrome kids and yelled out: “Retard! Retard!”

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    • Doris says:

      Mike, there is a study, I’m not sure which one, that says people who read fiction have more empathy. We fail our children when we put winning above being human. I think you may be onto something. Have we lost the ability to think things through, to understand what the impact of our words are? I do know we have to start somewhere. Doris

      Like

  8. S J Brown says:

    Unfortunately face to face communication now days is rare. Thank you for the tips. I hope the situation you and your neighbors find yourselves in is just a temporary low that will get resolved. Have you thought of contacting the local news station about the situation? Maybe they can shame those responsible into doing the right thing.

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    • Doris says:

      SJ, thank you for your thoughts and prayers. We’ve been unable to get the media involved,but we’re not down yet.

      I agree, face to face is fading fast. I love it when I meet people and we can just start talking. It is so rewarding. Hope the tips are useful.

      Thanks again for everything. Doris

      Like

  9. Your post has me taking a step back and thinking about how I communicate. I’m like Cher’ley. I too often think of what I’m trying to say next which can prevent me from actually listening to the other person. I definitely need to work on this. Congrats on the short story, Doris, and thank you for an enlightening post.

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    • Doris says:

      Sarah,

      Like I said, I was trained, but think I had a tendancy to listen that way even when young. It does open a person up to some wonderful conversations.

      I also thank you for the congrats. Who knew fiction would be a part of my writing. Doris

      Like

  10. Joe Stephens says:

    As a teacher, that skill is vital to me. I have gotten better at it as I’ve aged, but I fear like I’ll never be as good as I should be.

    Like

    • Doris says:

      I think teachers, more than anyone, have the gift to change lives. I believe listening is a big component of that. Believe me Joe, just making the effort means a lot to people. I wish you the best and have a great rest of the school year.
      Doris

      Like

  11. Beautiful post, Doris! Inspiring and reflective, as many people have noted. As I’ve done several Vietnam veterans’ interviews this year, one man in particular, who was still quite angry about his experience, came up to me a few hours later when I saw him at an event and said, “Thank you — I really feel you listened to me and I haven’t felt that in quite sometime.” I was honored and humbled. Hopefully, I learned something from that and practice empathetic listening a bit more often. Thank you for your great post!

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    • Wranglers says:

      Gayle, what a gift you gave that man. Bless you for taking the time. I truly believe many of the problems people face, and suffer for, comes from lack of being heard. If I can get one person to listen, hopefully it will make a big difference in anothers persons life along with their own.

      I so appreciate your support and kind words. Doris

      Like

  12. katewyland says:

    Great post and a great reminder. It’s so easy to focus on what you’re going to reply rather than on what the other person is saying and feeling. And feeling is the important part.
    Good luck with the short story.

    Like

    • Doris says:

      Kate, thank you. I sometimes wonder with all the electronic communications if we’ve forgotten what it was like to listen, then speak.

      I also thank you for the support with my short. I so appreciate it. Doris

      Like

  13. Nancy Jardine says:

    That’s a great reminder, Doris. I had to work very hard as a teacher to listen to individuals, especially when some had a hard time expressing themselves in front of their peers. I confess to finding the ‘wait time’ difficult, at times, though it’s an excellent practice. I’m impressed with anyone who can maintain it when there seem to be so many demands on our precious minutes in every day.

    Like

    • Doris says:

      I’m glad this reminder has hit a chord with people. I can’t imagine dealing with a classroom filled with children day in and day out. I applaud everyone who has taken the challenge of passing on learning to the next generations.

      It isn’t easy to take ‘wait time’ but the rewards are so bountiful, I don’t think I could ever not ‘listen’. Thank you Nancy for all you’ve done as a teacher and continue to do as a writer. Your words are appreciated. Doris

      Like

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