Exercise Your Empathy–Practicing Healthy Communication

Photo Credit: Msandersonmusic

Communication is an interesting thing. We communicate all the time, even when we’re not speaking. But of course, everyone already knows that at least half of our communication isn’t even audible.

Communication is essential to everything that we do. If atoms are the building blocks of life, then communication is arguably the building blocks of society.  On a more local level, communicating with friends and colleagues can be challenging. There are times when an issue is too personal to us, which prevents us from being able to effectively communicate.

We shut ourselves down in an attempt to protect ourselves from perceived verbal abuse. 9 times out of 10, it’s not abuse we’re hiding from. We’re not worried about getting hurt, we’re worried about the deflation of our egos.

Just stop it.

Take a moment. Go find a mirror. Look at yourself. You are not the only creature in the world that matters. Your beliefs are not inherently superior to others. Once you’re done with that. Take a look at this empathetic exercise that can help you communicate better.

Empathy Exercise

Empathy is the main ingredient. It should be in every discussion you have that concerns personal beliefs. Take a moment. Breathe in. Breathe out. Remember you don’t know everything. You can’t know everything.

  • Understand this person:
    • Who are they?
    • How strongly do they believe in their opinion?
    • Are they insecure?
    • How assertive were they?
    • What do you think they want from this conversation?
  • Understand their beliefs:
    • What is it? Could you repeat it?
    • Why do they believe it?
    • Could you believe it? What’s stopping you?

Mirror Exercise

Your answers here should be critical. Don’t pull your punches here to save your ego.

  • Understand yourself:
    • Who are you?
    • How strongly do you believe in your opinion?
    • Are you insecure?
    • How assertive were you?
    • How could you leave this conversation satisfied? When they concede a loss? Or when they assign value to your opinion?
  • Understand your own beliefs:
    • What is it? Did you present them clear enough for them to repeat it?
    • Why do you believe it?
    • Could they believe it? What do you think is stopping them?

Practice this with friends and family. Remember to be patient, as this should take a substantial amount of time and discipline to master.

Posted by

I'm a self-proclaimed aesthete, an amateur literary critic and a history buff with a BA in Political Science and History from Wesleyan College.

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