In a Deep Friendship, You Listen with Empathy

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You can’t love people without listening to them. That's why listening is probably the most important skill in building friendships and relationships.

“We must bear the ‘burden’ of being considerate of the doubts and fears of others” (Romans 15:2 TLB).

Listening is probably the most important skill in building friendships and relationships, because you can’t love people without listening to them.

There’s a big difference between hearing and listening. You can hear something and not really be listening. I can’t tell you how many arguments I’ve had with my kids or my wife because I was listening to the words instead of the emotions. Sometimes the words don’t even matter. Somebody can say to you, “I’m fine,” but the way they say it tells you they’re not fine. Listening means you also hear what the person isn’t saying.

That’s called empathy. Empathy means to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Learn their point of view. Ask yourself, “How would I feel if I were in that situation?”

Listening with empathy means you listen without interruption and you listen for fears and feelings. You listen for what they aren’t saying. You’re not trying to fix the situation. Sometimes healing comes just by listening!

Romans 15:2 says, “We must bear the ‘burden’ of being considerate of the doubts and fears of others” (TLB).

What does it mean to be considerate or to bear the burden of a doubt of others? That means that when people are in so much pain and hurting so badly that they don’t even know what they believe, they deserve the devotion of a loyal friend — someone who will be present and listen with empathy.

Are you that kind of friend for others?

Talk It Over

  • How can you show someone through your body language that you are listening to him or her?
  • What is the benefit of asking, “How would I feel if I were in that situation?”
  • What are some ways you can limit interruptions and distractions when you are trying to listen to someone?

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This devotional © 2016 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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