Faber and Mazlich who wrote "How to talk so your kids will listen.... and listen so they will talk" would say it's important to be able to listen to disgruntled feelings with out having to tell them to "have a stiff upper lip" or deny or change them in any way. But to say "Hey I'm sorry you are feeling that way.." To observe and witness the expression of emotions with out having to change them is healing for both parties. Compassion is shared and feelings are honored. These techniques were developed to talk with children but I find them effective for adults as well. The power of compassionate listening is used to witness, honor and validate emotions. Once a person feels understood many of the difficult emotions fade away because sharing creates connection and healing happens with coming together in understanding.
Relationship guru, Harville Hendrix would say it's important, in conversation, to be able to reflect back statements to clarify your partner’s point of view and to build understanding. Statements such as "If I hear you correctly I understand you were feeling such and such...” followed by a sympathetic statement such as “I can understand why you would feeling such and such…"
Developing reflective listening skills is necessary to slow us down enough to fully understand the other person's point of view. It helps to re-establish sympathy, rapport and connection. This skill reduces the tendency for people to engage in power struggles over who’s right and wrong and engages our heart’s ability to unite rather than our mind’s tendency to divide and deconstruct.
David Deida, spirituality, sexuality and relationship guru, would say that the masculine and the feminine have different natures. The feminine has innate emotional wisdom and the masculine has innate consciousness. The masculine being which is more "fix it" oriented is strong in logic. The feminine being is highly intuitive and values feelings and the sharing of feelings. These different energetic orientations cause the attraction and dynamism of polar opposites but also causes challenges for relating. Men should honor womens emotional intuition and women should honor men’s want to fix and be logical.
Each generation has to build it’s own emotional wisdom. As part of life’s journey we get hurt, we get loved and we learn from both.
If we are lucky we can inherit bits of emotional wisdom from our parents, family and friends. We build our emotional intelligence like we build our vocabulary, one bit at a time. We can hurt or heal each other through sharing and living with each other. Hopefully we learn to live and love each other as part of the Golden Rule treating each other as we would like to be treated. Hopefully these techniques shared here will give you some resources for building your own strength and resiliency with emotional intelligence.
Lisa Baas Dec. 2013