Sins of the Empath : The Listener


Many people are poor listeners. It takes concentration and effort to listen for a sustained period of time. Many people lack the discipline and rigour that is required to be such a person, their minds wander, they are busy thinking about what they want to say, the point which they wish to make or even wondering what they are going to have for dinner. Staying on point with regard to what somebody is saying takes focus and effort.

Being a good listener is one of the traits which belongs to the empathic group of people. You are blessed with the ability to sit and exhibit considerable patience as you allow somebody to talk to you. At its simplest, you allow a person to tell you all about their plans for decorating their house. Such a topic might be regarded as mundane but not to those from the empathic group. You take an interest in what you are told and this combines with your preparedness to allow others to have their say. Your stance is that if the subject matter is important to that person, then it is important to you as well. You will not trivialise the commentary, regard the conversation as banal or consign the observations from the speaker into the file in your mind marked ‘Trivial’.

It is not the case that you will necessarily sit like some wall flower as this person talks, but you are able to regulate your responses so you do not interrupt them. Instead, you coax people to share, not so you can elicit information to use against them, but rather to aid your own understanding with a view to being able to respond in a more effective and helpful manner.

Your capacity to listen is not confined to allowing somebody to tell you what they think of the latest Tom Cruise film or how their Greek Island hopping holiday panned out. Your listening skill finds its forte when you engage in listening to people talk about their hopes, their concerns, their problems and what is causing them anguish and anxiety. You are skilled in adopting a pose which allows that person to offload about anything and everything to you. You deploy silent visual cues which demonstrate that you are paying attention and that you are processing what you are being told in order, at the appropriate time, to provide valuable feedback, observation and insight.

This segues into the fact that not only are you a brilliant listener but you also know when to speak and when to remain silent. You will not interject unnecessarily, but instead you will be able to gauge when you should speak. You can hold on to information, flag a point and store it, assimilating the steam of facts and opinions that are being spewed in your direction until there is an apt moment for you to respond.

You empathic nature as a whole combines with this ability to listen to create a safe environment wherein the speaker feels able to trust you. He or she almost has a compulsion in your presence to want to confess, spill their guts, confide and explain. You generate an environment whereby the speaker knows they can tell you what is on their mind and that you will not be judgemental. They feel assured in your presence, confidence that not only are they being listened to but they are being heard.

Indeed, the skill of being a good listener, as an empathic person, is the anti-thesis of our kind. We are generally poor listeners, save when we identify the need and only then it is because we have seen that there is a benefit which can be accrued from listening intently. More usually, the Lesser will find that his chaotic thoughts appear in a haphazard fashion and he has to release his comments as if he does not do so he might be poisoned by keeping the toxic words inside. This means that his thoughts are all about what he is saying, about to say and he is not listening to you. The Mid-Ranger appears to be listening, he can at least create the image, but he is not. He is too concerned to ensure that what he has to say will be listened to and responded to. When you are speaking he is not listening to what you have to say, he finds your words are getting in the way and, like all of our kind, all he hears is the fuel element of what is being said. If you are shouting about how annoyed you are with him, he is not hearing the content but rather enjoying the fuel being provided and thinking about what might be said next to keep this flow glowing. As for the Greater, he is contemptible of what you have to say, how can anything you say be of interest to him unless it is about him and it is providing fuel.

You may find with our kind that you realise you are repeating yourself as you see that we appear to be somewhere else. Furthermore, there will be instances where we will deny the you have told us something and our denial is adamant. You know that you told us and at the time we responded confirming what you had told us. Yet, here we are now denying that you told us what time to meet up or where to go to in order to collect a parcel. Of course there will be times where we have heard you and we then deny what you say in order to maintain control and frustrate you (usually the preserve of the Greaters) but on many occasions the Lesser or Mid-Ranger will actually not remember what was said and the denial is based on their genuine belief you have not told us something, because they were not listening and absorbing what was being said, because they had no interest in what you were saying at that time. They may have been considering what they wanted to say, who else they wanted to speak to, what they were going to do next and many other factors, which all result in a complete failure to absorb what you have said. Accordingly, the denial and a strenuous one at that, arises at a later time.

Your ability to be a great listener means that you also expect others to listen return the same courtesy to you. That is not to state that you are demanding and haughty about being listened to, far from it, you are content to allow others to speak for longer and more often than you. You do however expect that when you speak you will be listened to and our repeated failure to do this becomes a repeated source of frustration and upset for you.

The fact of being an excellent listener becomes your sin because we treat you like the sounding board, save we are not interested in hearing anything back from you. The Mid-Range of our kind and especially the Greater revel in the imposition of lengthy monologues where we espouse our views (often stolen from listening to others) for the purposes of ensuring you bask in our brilliant rhetoric. Speeches will be made from our armchairs as if we were delivering the Gettysburg Address. You will listen because that is what you do and we seize on your capacity to listen and then listen some more as a captive and appreciative audience. Your smile, your occasional nods and wide-eyed appreciation (when we deign to look at you) are confirmation of our standing and our effective grandstanding.

You are expected to listen to us dominate the table at a dinner party and nod with enthusiasm, make appreciative noises and be supportive and you will do so because as the excellent listener you feel that it is only right.

You are expected to laugh at the anecdote which we have told a hundred times before and you will dutifully do so. You believe that it is fair and right to allow us our stage and we exploit that willingness on your part to the full. Your sins manifest through allowing us to rant at you. You believe we are entitled to say our piece, no matter how vociferously and you will not interrupt, even though we can see the fear and hurt in your eyes. Your capacity for listening means that you will be regularly exposed to our vitriolic words and compelled to hear them, listen them out and respond, even though all we want is your fuel by way of response. You will become frustrated, even though your try to hide it, at our failure to listen to you, our lack of interest in your opinion and the way we interrupt you and talk over you.

We want you listening, attentive and admiring. We want you listing, hanging on our words even as we berate you. You have a deep sense of obligation to do so, feeling that we may finally make some valid point, tell you something that provides a breakthrough and gives a moment of clarity through this long-winded spiel.It never comes. It is a waterfall of words as we talk about ourselves, talk about our brilliance (greater), woes (mid-ranger) or anger (lesser). This cascading oratory and your obligation to listen begins to take its toll as you worn down by our selfishness, our narrow-mindedness and the savageness of our comments when they are directed at you.

Some suggest that to speak is to sin.

In the world of the empath, listening is worse.

27 thoughts on “Sins of the Empath : The Listener

  1. Violet says:

    Windstorm it’s great to be positive and I believe at the time I dealt with it in amazing ways. I’m in awe of how strong I was to ignore them and go on to become a successful journalist. I never ruled my world with them. But every human has limits, particularly in living in psychological abuse 24/7. I can only conclude the sociopaths know nobody would want their putrid selves and they remove the spirit and will of anyone near so they won’t be abandoned. They are the cheapest of all beings.
    It’s hard for me to feel calm, mainly because in my abuse cycle I swung from terror to zen and they pulled the strings. They got in early and were obsessive about never letting me slip out of mental or physical grip.
    I still feel all that energy and am triggered at work all day because everybody in television is an abuser. I’m abused by narcissistic camermen before going on air, little things like touching me in the wrong place or criticising or driving erratically and silent treatment. But I’m not giving up what I love.
    I need to keep repeatNg the mantra: it is safe to like myself. Because at home it got me hit.
    What an experience to give your baby! Stop her feeling good. I will never be able to understand the narcissist who gave up all the best things in life.

  2. RunningAway says:

    My mid-ranger ex seemed to have to have an eerily complete recollection of everything I’ve ever said to him. It was disconcerting how he would repeat verbatim something hat I had said months earlier in passing; when he appeared to not be interested or listening. In fact, I have very few examples of the opposite. In instances when he claimed to not recall a conversation, the bald-faced lie was clear in his body language. He must have been always vigilant, knowing that the more he knows about me, the more opportunity to manipulate.

    1. Violet says:

      RunningAway it’s something they learn to do as children after throwing their real self away. Storing or Parroting helps them decide their next move and it’s easier for them because there is no self to get in the way of their observing.

  3. Maia says:

    I was guilty of this sin. The hours I sat with the phone burning my ear, listening to him whinge about anything and everything. That man could moan for England! Of course it was always someone else’s fault. Many times I could have put the receiver down and gone for a walk and he’d still be there delighting in the sound of his own voice. Often he’d repeat old conversations he’d told many times. These calls would leave me drained, they went on for hours and were so negative. But I loved him so I hung on to his every mind numbingly boring word until he was spent.

  4. Nat says:

    Just 6 months after we started dating I noticed that he’s not interested in my job at all. Whenever I’m starting to talk about my day, he quickly switches to HIS job, HIS day, HIS stories. At some point I even stopped to talk about myself to see what happens… and you know what? He didn’t even notice. It wasn’t weird for him that we’re together for 2 r 3 years and he doesn’t even know what’s my boss’s name.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Indeed Nat because of course he isn’t interested.

      1. Nat says:

        You know HG, the only thing that I am (and many other empaths I’m sure) concerned about is that perhaps my replacement is better than me…and maybe because she’s better, maybe she has everything that I didn’t have, including his interest in her job, appreciation, no name calling etc.

        I think our tormented souls would really appreciate if you could write a post about it.

        1. HG Tudor says:

          I know that is one of your concerns and I have addressed it previously.

  5. Violet says:

    What happens to you when you listen to stories read aloud?
    Because in my experience some narcissists like this and it calms them down but if it is time to top up their esteem they are ferocious. And how can you see fear and hurt in your partner’s eyes and not feel bad? I feel angered by this and as though it is a sign of your selfish choice as a child.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      It depends on the situation.

      I would have thought you would have known the answer to your second question ; because I have no conscience and no sense of guilt.

      1. Violet says:

        Well there is no conscience and there is being humane.
        A basic demonstration of anyone’s intelligence is stopping that kind of thing happening.
        As you’re saying these things I really question how I got along with them for so long. To be honest I talked a lot about myself and just plain made them listen. I knew about their childish boredom but I kind of waited until I could see a glimmer of them looking like they were sharing the emotions.
        This seemed to send them in the right direction but it did look like an imaginary thing they placed too much importance in until I educated them and afterwards they would remember the real value of the story. Then they could understand me.
        At times though this created some kind of fearful overwhelming stimulation for them. I guess that is cliseness for you guys

        1. HG Tudor says:

          I understand your point Violet, but of course being humane is the response from your perspective and as you know, we have a different perspective.

          “A basic demonstration of anyone’s intelligence is stopping that kind of thing happening.” – partially correct. You need to add “when viewed from your perspective” because from our perspective the intelligent thing is to keep doing it because it serves us.

          1. Violet says:

            Wow. I’m devastated to have wasted years that were supposed to be the best of my life with such twats. Now I know while I was flying and enjoying my success they’d look at me incredulous I could cope without them. I wouldn’t have given them one glance. Not one glance. They represent the opposite of everything I am and believe in. They just sat their in depression hoping for my pity. The cheap bastards.
            I also do want revenge.

          2. Windstorm2 says:

            Violet, did it used to scare you when you were a child and someone would say to you, “These are the best years of your life!”? It used to almost make me panic!! I’d be horrified thinking, “Oh my God! Surely not! They must be joking!!” But they always looked so serious. It really worried me. I mean, what was the point of going on if this hell was the highlight? And I always knew there was no way I’d EVER want to be a child again.

            But in a way, maybe we lucked up. We will never be one of those sad, old people moaning about how we wish we could go back to our childhood and do it all over again! Our best days will always be ahead of us as we keep healing and learning our true potential!!

          3. Violet says:

            I used to feel sad and because they were telling me I should be happy, I had by then concluded I was faulty and inferior as the narcissists told me all day, every day. It was the not knowing that sunk me. Not being able to be happy was just one more flaw to add to the list, that already included stupid, trouble, dirty, a toy, slutty and slow.

            When people would say it in front of my family, my mother would fairy floss in agreeance and pretend to love me, or she’d give me a smirk because she so much enjoyed my depression and shame. By then my denial consisted of considering us to be on the set of a black comedy that had its spontaneous ups and downs, and I delivered my funny lines because when I made my mother laugh shéd almost treat me humanely.

            How about carrying this awful energy for so many years? That lead feeling I can finally name as being ignored, humiliated and being worthless. That anxiety to pretend. That shyness from being unwelcome. For my mother to cut all good things and my self from me, make me obsessed with her for my self assurance and then hit and throw me away like she did, must make her the cruelest bitch on earth. I struggle to respect myself as an adult now because I just realised I’ve always been spoken to as an infant. She does it with glee and even after ruining so much, just sits eating toast and watching crime shows. Couldn’t give a shit.
            Now I feel I won’t meet someone and have a baby as I always wanted. She took my past and now I’m so ill she’s taken my future too. I don’t feel joy. I don’t care about anything.

          4. Windstorm2 says:

            At least now you can see the past for what it is and begin to understand it all. With understanding can come healing. Leave her hateful self behind like a slug in her chair watching tv. She controled your past, but you control your future – at least you control how you react to it and feel about it.

            I have spent years mired in negative feelings and hopelessness. No one could move me out of them except me. And I couldn’t until I was ready inside to move on. Try focusing on improving your life. Start small with little things that make you feel better and help you rediscover joy and hope.
            Hugs ❤️

          5. Windstorm2 says:

            Living well is the best revenge

          6. Violet says:

            And if I stood up for myself all of them would gang up on me and say I deserved to be abused because I’m bad and dirty. Or leave the room. After all I gave them. And gave up for them. Nothing can ever comfort me and I don’t want comforting words. I want to slit each of their throats, for colluding against a baby girl since she was born and ruining every moment of her life. Fucking perverts.
            Has anyone had luck charging their family for historic abuse?

      2. Violet says:

        If your intelligence tells you that then what does it say about society giving you the finger and ignoring you til you die once people are educated? No more humane there huh?

        1. HG Tudor says:

          But they won’t.

          1. Violet says:

            I’m not so sure.
            Anyway you didn’t answer my triangulation question.

  6. Natalie says:

    I’ve read many if your books and consider myself “over” the situation with the narc I knew. My new dilemma is I have met someone who is kind, affectionate, and overall a really great guy. The problem is…he’s awesome and I now wonder why someone would treat me so well. You’ve stated you are not a healer but I hope you have published material of have insight on how I can get past this.

    1. Natalie,
      Why would someone treat you so well? That’s a self esteem issue. Are you not worthy of being treated in a loving respectful way? Yes you are. You just got off the emotional roller coaster with a narc. You are used to being in a heightened emotional state and being cut down by an emotionally unavailable person. A N will make you feel like you are not worthy of anything. Now you are with someone who is secure and the contrast is blinding. You get confused about how you could go from being nothing to something. You were worthy of love and affection all along. Believe that💛

      1. Natalie says:

        Thank you Anna Belle Black. I didn’t realize that was my thought process until I saw it typed. I guess recovering also includes building oneself back up.Thanks so the reminder!

  7. C★ says:

    speak little, listen lots…. advised to me by a Navajo many moons ago…

  8. Windstorm2 says:

    Maybe at first, HG. But over the years we learn how to speak up and to protect ourselves. When my exhusband begins one of those off-told stories to me, I interject and say the next part or the punch line if it is a joke. Not in a rude way but with a laugh to let him know I don’t need to hear it again. That used to make him very angry, but now he knows if he gets angry, I will leave.

    And you don’t know what we’re really thinking. I just got home from meeting a friend from NY. She’s very intellectual and one of her many stories about her life (which I listened to very attentively, providing all the appropriate comments) was about her trying to use a cognitive strategy to analyse characters from literature. She admitted she could never get it to work because it required her to put herself in someone else’s shoes and see things from their point of view. She didn’t understand why she was never able to do that. I thought, “I know why, because you have no empathy and you don’t understand because you are a midranger.” Of course she had no idea of my thoughts as I sat there listening closely.

    I am very proud of being a good listener and good at my role as fuel source – if you like the slow, dependable carrier type. But this in no way diminishes me, nor do I let it cause me any suffering.

  9. RS says:

    If I ever have the misfortune to entangle myself with another one of your kind, I will remember this jewel of information that you have shared. I will interrupt him, tap my fingers and look like I can hardly wait untill he is finished.😄

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