When emotions loom large, logic doesn't cut it. In fact, it's downright intimidating to express emotion and listen to someone give solutions, criticize or discount your feelings. Rather, the old technique of reflecting feelings or active listening helps you feel understood, acknowledged and accepted. It doesn't mean someone agrees but someone cares what you feel. Once you know that empathy is there, you can listen to logic, ideas or solutions, if necessary.
For example, the teenager is screaming at mom. Instead of defending herself, mom expresses the teen's right to disappointment, frustration and anger that things aren't going her way. The teen calms down. Or, the husband complains about the in-laws and the wife says that they are truly irritating to him, so he feels so validated and understood that he accepts their long visits better. The friend cries about her long lost love and the other friend sympathizes with comments about the understandable sadness, rather than reminding her what a jerk he was, and the crier finds herself buoyed up and braver.
Put yourself in the other's shoes, guess the feeling, express it in your own words, share. If you're wrong, no harm done because your effort will be appreciated and corrected. Conversation grows this way and the understood person is more likely to hear ideas and logic later. This process is so much more healing than outward correction, arguing, and problem-solving because someone is ready for it.
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