This will be the first in 5 posts I’m doing on the book “Verbal Judo – The Gentle Art of Persuasion” by George J. Thompson, Ph.D.
A few months ago I finished reading Verbal Judo. How did I find this gem? I had asked my Dad for recommendations on books that strengthen grit and give advice on dealing with people effectively. I’d already read “Grit” by Angela Duckworth and I wanted something more actionable. Verbal Judo was exactly what I was looking for.
Today’s post will focus on the following quote:
“Here is the bottom line of all communication: Empathy absorbs tension. It works every time.” – Thompson
Have you ever struggled to connect with people. Do you wonder why they don’t listen to you? You have great ideas. Why aren’t they willing to listen?
The answer to that question is a lot simpler than you think. They don’t listen because you don’t listen.
“Empathy means “to see through the eye of the other.” – Thompson
I’ve heard this a lot growing up. In order to see how a man sees you have to look through his eyes. In order to know how a man experiences the world, you need to walk in his shoes.
Yes, easy right?
I’ve had the hardest time empathizing because my empathy comes with some kind of agreement that the other person will listen to me next. This comes through much more clearly than you think. You can’t hide it.
Just take a moment here. Think of the last time you were talking to someone and you could just see it on their face. They are ready to say their point without even letting you finish yours.
This is the opposite of empathy.
So how do you show empathy? Stop trying. Just do it.
“Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda
Do this next time
Next time you’re listening to someone pour out their heart and soul to you just do one thing. Pay attention. Find the parts they are struggling most with. Locate the points where they trail off. Those are the most meaningful comments that few are brave or willing to follow up on, ask for clarification, and rephrase back to the person in need of empathy.
Thompson suggests the following:
“The next time you have an argument, before you start snapping back and using your words to address your own feelings, why not stop and analyze. What is the problem? How does my opponent see it? How is my opponent different from me? What constraints make it so difficult to deal with him today? And remember to keep a concerned and caring face. That in itself is often enough to deflect abuse.” – Thompson
Have you tried this out? Let me know how it worked out for you.