Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Communication: Empathy: Friday, July 27 2018

Charles West Mindfulness Group
2nd and 4th Friday of the Month
Club/Recreation Room, Floor 31
1:00pm sharp - 3:00pm
Facilitator: Alainnah Robertson

Friday, July 27 2018

What a lovely afternoon we enjoyed together! As Carol said, we are continuing along our road to greater maturity. We are all deepening our understanding of what is maturity, and how to attain it. Amidst lots of laughter, we shared our thoughts and experiences on the subject of empathy. Practicing empathy, everyone listened intently to each person as they spoke on the subject. As Maureen said, there is no more fascinating subject to an individual, than themselves; or listening to someone else speak honestly about their deeper feelings. Carol shared with us that she valued the feeling of safety she felt in our Group, as she knew that we all cared about each other, and supported each other. 

We darkened the Club Room, as usual, settled into a comfortable position, and as the bell faded into the shadows, we began our meditation. It had been agreed that everyone preferred to be led into our time of peace. The warm blanket of relaxation was drawn up over everyone. We walked down that path leading through a beautiful meadow, full of wildflowers of every colour. It was a beautiful day, and we felt the warm sun on our faces. The gentle breeze that blew through the leaves in the trees bordering the meadow, was cool around us. We stepped down the broad staircase, with shallow, wide steps until we reached our place of peace. There we rested for ten minutes in tranquility. Slowly, we reversed the process, coming awake as the bell called us back into the present. 


Good Communicator

To be a good communicator the first necessity is to be empathetic. This means understanding the point of view of the other person. This means getting into the other person’s shoes; really making an effort to see the other side. Take the time to do this.
Once understood, that person’s position has to be respected. We are all different, and this ought to be celebrated, not disliked. We can all learn from each other. Usually both sides have valid points. Take the time to consider this.

Using phrases such as, “I understand where you are coming from”, demonstrates that you have been listening to the other person, and respect their opinion. Repeat back what you think you have learned from what has been said. It’s best to make sure that you have understood correctly.

Remember, no one likes trying to communicate with someone who cares only about expressing their own point of view, and doesn’t take the time to really listen empathetically to anyone else.

Remember, every point of view is speculation. Speculation can be boring, unless based on educated fact.

An expert is someone who has done more research on a subject, and given it more thought. But even the opinion of an expert is speculation, except it is based on the latest information. This is the scientific point of view, as each scientific theory is only the latest theory, until further information is revealed.

Listening empathetically is a skill we have to develop to be a good communicator in many situations. This can be seen as a form of loving.

Good Debater
To be a good debater involves knowing the point of view of each side, and respecting each position. A really good debater can debate from both sides. This means developing empathy so that the debater can do this.

Good Conversationalist
To be a good conversationalist involves active listening, with empathy.

Active listening involves
  1. Paying close attention to what the other person is saying.
  2. Asking clarifying questions.
  3. Rephrasing what the other person says to ensure understanding
  4. Asking leading questions.
  5. Taking time to let the other person think and express what they want to say.
Good conversationalists
  1. Know how to exchange ideas rationally, without arguing.
  2. Know how to listen.
  3. Know that conversation is about slowly taking time to share information.
  4. Look for the good points in the other point of view.
  5. Look for commonalities on both sides.
  6. Exchange experiences, giving the other person time to talk.
  7. Don't jump into the conversation before the other person has stopped talking.
  8. Don't try to hog the conversation.
  1. Do you develop and work on your communication skills?
  2. Do you treat people as you would like to be treated yourself?
  3. Do you actively listen to what other people have to say?
  4. Do you give people time, and "be present" when you are with them?
  5. Do you give people time to finish what they are saying?
  6. Do you ask leading questions to prompt the other person?
  7. Do you avoid speculating about what others think?
  8. Do you now that speculating about what others think can be boring?
  9. Do you stick to facts?

Eti shared with us a quote that emphasised what we discussed today. Deal with situations with empathy and honesty, rather than letting them fester and destroy our relationships with others. 

The Poison Tree (1794)
by William Blake (1757-1827)

I was angry with my friend;
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe;
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears
Night and morning with my tears,
And I sunned it with smiles
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright,
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine, 

And into my garden stole
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning, glad, I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

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