Essay on Empathetic Listening

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Wesleyan University
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Empathetic listening involves paying attention to others with empathy when having a conversation. Under such circumstances, a person should focus on establishing emotional identification, compassion, and insight into the parties involved. Apparently, an empathetic listener ought to possess particular skills which can enhance their ability to listen to others empathetically. An individual needs to give the speaker undivided attention to ensure the intended message is delivered effectively. It is also essential to be non-judgmental. This implies that a person should avoid minimizing and trivializing the issues being raised by the speaker. Whenever my friends and colleagues come to me with pressings issue, I usually remain quiet and keen to the narrator. However, I have learned that tend to be critical and impatient which makes me lose the interest in the subject matter.


Two weeks ago, a friend sought my advice regarding his troubled relationship. We have been close friends for years, and we had nothing to hide from each other regarding our personal affairs. Fiona (I have used a different name for privacy reasons) claimed that her two-year marriage was in turmoil. She alleged that her husbands infidelity has escalated to uncontrollable levels and there was the need of separating. On two different accounts, Fiona confronted her husband pertaining his unfaithfulness in their matrimony. In her utterance, Fiona claimed that she was tired of her husbands affairs, which was taking toil of her emotional and physical health. She asserted that she was stressed and needed to be encouraged and advised on the way out. However, this conversation was untimely, since I was supposed to meet some deadlines and my managers pressure to deliver the tasks promptly was piling.

Explain whether you find yourself being critical when the person just needed someone to listen

Along the conversation, I realized that I was critical when Fiona just needed someone to listen. I allowed my impatience to overcome my listening abilities which made me judgmental. As Fiona was narrating her ordeal, back in my mind, I was angry that she was consuming my limited time, which I required to accomplish the tasks. I thought Fiona was irrational to overlook the magnitude and urgency of my job by dragging me into her problems. I focused more on the task before me, thus disregarding the situation my friend was experiencing. This indicated that I was less compassionate and emotionally connected to her, which hindered my empathetic listening skills under this case.

According to my judgment, Fiona was insensitive to my job, and it could have been appropriate if she seeks such a conversation at home or the joints we usually meet. However, upon reflecting on our friendship and the purported pain she was enduring, I changed my attitude towards Fionas utterances. I realized she was hurting and needed someone to console her. This compelled me to conceal my impatience and judgmental perception by being supportive and paying attention to her. Fiona was determined to fight for her marriage, but it seems she was fighting a losing battle, something devastated her greatly. This was an indication that she was in need of someone to listen.

Identify whether you let the person know, by your words or actions, you cared about his/her dilemma even if you were not able to help in any other way

In the initial stages of the conversation, I was judgmental and impatient, something that hindered my empathetic listening. However, after realizing that Fiona was hurting over her failed marriage, I started being concerned over her situation. I used both actions and words which demonstrated that I cared about the predicament she was undergoing, and I was willing to listen and offer help within my abilities. I started by shutting down the laptop to ensure I was attentive and alert to what Fiona was communicating. I refrained from interrupting her speech and instead used encouraging words such as go on, I am listening or I am sorryI can imagine how you are feeling. I kept on nodding my head as well as maintaining eye contact to convince her that I was keenly following her narration, thus facilitating the creation of emotional connection and trust. I occasionally restated and paraphrased some portions of her speech, ultimately boosting my knowledge of the situation that Fiona was recounting. I did this as a way of encouraging Fiona that I cared about her experience and I was interested in every bit.

Analyze your listening performance

Encounter with Fiona gave a highlight of various aspects of my empathetic listening abilities. In the beginning, my listening performance was poor. I was distracted with an urge of completing the job before deadline. Managers insistence that I finish the task promptly piled more pressure ultimately hampering my concentration to Fionas case. I kept on reading and keying in some data on the laptop which was an indication that I was not paying maximum attention to the speaker. I was also judgmental and critical to the speaker. While going on with her narration, I started forming negative opinions about Fiona. I thought she was insensitive to my job by ignoring the urgency of the tasks at hand. I wished she could shorten her conversation for me to continue with the job. At this instant, I was less compassionate and did not show concern for Fionas plight hence being a poor empathetic listener.

My listening performance improved significantly when I started reflecting on our friendship with Fiona. I started showing great concern and care to her ordeal by abandoning my activities to listen to her. I ensured that I was alert to everything she said, which convinced her that I cared. I applied encouraging strategies through my actions and words which demonstrated my empathy. For instance, I often nodded and maintained eye contact, attesting that I was attentive to her narration. I also encouraged her through supportive phrases such as do not worry, it is going to be fine I also provided her with encouraging responses which lessened her the burden pain she was experiencing. Throughout the last phase of the conversation, I can acknowledge that my listening performances improved remarkably.


Empathetic listening is beneficial to peoples daily conversations. It enhances the building of trust as well as helping disputants to release tension and emotions. Empathetic listening also facilitates the creation of a conducive environment for collaborative problem solving (Salem, 2003). It is therefore essential that individuals nurture useful skills that can boost their empathetic listening performances.


BIBLIOGRAPHY Bookbinder, a. J. (2012). Empathy, Listening Skills & Relationships. Empathy, Listening skills & Touching Another Heart, 1-10.

Salem, R. (2003). Empathic Listening. Knowledge Base, 1-6. Retrieved from

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