Empathy: Acknowledge Out Loud

by | Nov 16, 2020

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDILnGIiMaw[/embedyt]

A vital and often skipped over step in embracing empathy is to acknowledge OUT LOUD what the other person is feeling.

Not just, “Hey, I understand you are feeling.” No. Not that. We are all feeling all the time so noting that does nothing to make me believe that you understand me. It’s getting specific about what that person is feeling and saying that word out loud to them.

Two powerful moments happen when that feeling is stated out loud. Check out the video to see what they are and how that acknowledgment can lead to true #connection.

Another bonus? So often, this is all we need to hear. The out loud acknowledgment. The understanding. That moment of, “Yes. They heard me. They feel me. They get me.” Then that powerful pause…

Check out the video above, or if you’d prefer to read, here is the transcript:

Hey there everyone, how’s it going. We are continuing our conversation about empathy and how to really bring this concept that’s all over the news to life; how to add empathy to build your relationships, to really connect with people, and to understand that person’s experience.

One of the big pieces when we’re talking about having empathetic conversations that we often miss is acknowledging how that person is feeling out loud.  When I teach empathy, talk about empathy, I use a very basic formula for what is a powerful concept.  I basically say, “Think about the feeling, and the fact.”

What are they feeling and why are they feeling that way? As I’m listening to someone, I keep those two words in mind, and so it helps me keep present. I don’t try and fix anything, I’m not trying to solve anything, I’m just trying to take in the full experience and think, “what are they feeling and why are they feeling that way?”

And here is the huge opportunity that we often either forget about, don’t do, or mess up. So a mess up would sound something like, “Hey, I understand how you’re feeling… blah blah blah blah blah.” Or, “Hey I understand, blah blah blah blah blah.”  This is when we’ve been told the formula, “Oh, say that you understand.”

Well, we can’t just say, “I understand,” or “I understand what you’re feeling.” I’m like, “Well, what am I feeling? You don’t know what I’m feeling.” What we need to do is to make sure restating that feeling, the actual feeling, out loud. Something like, “I can see how excited you are! That’s so great, you got the promotion!” or, “Oh, I can totally understand how disappointing it is that you didn’t get the job offer,” or, “I can sense your relief. That must be such a weight lifted off your shoulders.”

Two things are happening when we say that out loud. First, think about what’s happening to the other person. They’re thinking, “Oh they heard me, they’re acknowledging me, they understand me because yeah, I am super excited” or “I am disappointed” or “I am relieved. That acknowledgement out loud confirms that you get me.”

The other thing that’s happening is from our point of view, the person that’s listening and acknowledging. Because if I say, “Oh man, you must be so excited,” I’m thinking, “Oh, when I’m excited, I want someone to celebrate.” Or, “Oh, you must be so disappointed, or so relieved, when I felt that way before, what do I want? How can I support that person?”  It becomes a way for us to pause, an indicator and a connection within ourselves of when we have felt this way, what did we want? That’s when we are walking next to them on that journey.

My challenge for you is in conversations, not to just say, “Hey, I understand,” or skip over that entirely, but focus in on what are they feeling and why are they feeling that way and making sure to acknowledge out loud. To me this is one of the vital pieces that most the time can just solve, or just the acknowledgement of, “Hey, I feel you, I hear you, I understand you.”

This is what we’re looking for, right? This is connection. So often we skip over to get to the next thing. So pause, state the fact and the feeling, the actual feeling, not just, “Hey, I feel you.” That is your next step in really developing an empathetic relationship.

All right, we’ll be back soon! Talk to you then.


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