Have you ever considered that at the core of all successful relationships is empathy?
Fundamentally all of us human beings want to be seen and understood; we want to know that the tribe around us can offer us the security of knowing that they understand where we are coming from. It is such a fundamental need that is has fueled much of our success as modern civilisation.
Our bond as partners is entirely connected to the knowledge that the other person deeply understands us. At its core, this is what empathy is all about; the ability to stand in the shoes of the other person and see the world as they do.
Ensuring you commit genuine attention to your partner is the highest form of delivering empathy. The ability to understand someone truly can only be accessed if you are committed to listening to them, to watching their body language and the words they use, and to leaning into what they are really experiencing. So much of deep love is driven by having empathy at heart, if you are not practicing it with your partner, are you truly loving them in every way you can?
1) How often do you find that you were listening but you didn’t actually take note of what the person was saying? Your body may have been in the same room as them, but your attention was elsewhere. The first key to driving deeper empathetic connection is to ensure that when you listen, you listen to truly hear.
2) Step two is driven by curiosity and enquiry. It is through poignant question asking that we can deepen our understanding. Next time you are in important discussion with your partner try to focus on asking questions to better understand their answers, rather than simply reacting to the information you are given.
3) Noticing the body language of the person you are speaking to is one of the most powerful tools you have, and yet so often we don’t invest in this area. We know that verbal communication is only 30% of our communication but we are frequently missing the signs of disconnection or a retreating emotional state. Watch for arms crossing, physical leaning back and faster breathing – all signs that the person you are talking to is feeling stressed or disconnected from you.
The health of our relationships, and indeed the strength of our self-worth and the confidence that we give our partners, depends on our ability to authentically connect with their reality. Without this, what are we truly gifting them beyond their relationship with any other person?
Choosing to invest more time to empathising with your partner will allow you to discover how a deeper understanding for each other may just be the key to far more profound connectivity than you have had in recent times.
Mimi Nicklin is the Host of “Empathy for Breakfast” and author of “Softening the Edge” (available August 2020)