Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. Most people listen with the intent to reply.”
– Stephen R. Covey
Do you know how to respond to the emotional needs of others? Consider your relationships for a moment, your friends, family members, children or partner. Do you feel that you are able to respond to their emotional needs?
Every person has emotional needs which they seek fulfillment for. Some can be met on your own or with the help from someone else. Consider the following needs both for yourself and for those you are in a relationship with:
- To be loved, trusted, comforted, confident, respected, needed, believed, wanted, listened to
- To belong, relax, trust, love
- Spiritual needs
- Intimacy needs
In responding to the emotional needs of others, the following would be unhelpful approaches:
- Neglect “you can figure it out on your own”
- Criticism “lighten up, it’s not that bad”
- Advice “next time you should…”
- Minimize “it’s really not that big of a deal”
- Anger “that makes me so mad!”
- Self-reflection “that happened to me once”
- Complaints “that was so embarrassing”
- Avoidance – using humor to change the subject
Responding to emotional needs in the following ways would be more helpful to those you care about:
- Listen for their need- which one is are looking for to be met?
- Listen carefully- give them your full attention, do not do something else at the same time you are attempting to listen. This will make the other person feel dismissed. As you listen be sure that you are understanding.
- Listen more- take in what they are saying, do not formulate a response in your head as they are speaking. Reflect back what they are saying, this will help them to feel heard.
- Respond- show empathy, meet their need, do not make it about yourself! Use feeling words to communicate, “I am sorry you had to go through such sadness.” Ask questions when appropriate; what do you need from me or what I can I do to be helpful?
These ideas just scratch the surface on meeting the needs of others in a healthy manner. We will continue to look at this topic in depth in future blog posts. For now, try to implement these techniques with a loved one and pay attention to the results!