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.
2 thoughts on “Sins of the Empath : The Listener”
Ugh. I literally almost typed out the same thing I commented on this back in February.
Being a good listener (and rememberer) is definitely a blessing and a curse. I have always been a good listener and will usually remember things people tell me in great detail. And it does bother me that most people don’t listen. And RARELY remember 😠
I’ve always been a good listener. I like to listen to people and see what they have to say. I have always learned life experiences from other people. That’s why I like to listen. I almost never talk, I prefer to listen so you can see what their tendencies and thoughts are. You make an assessment of whether you like what you hear or not and whether it comes close to your way of being and thinking. At the same time, you learn from other people’s experiences.
In the relationship, with my narcissist the same thing also happened, he listened and taught me many things. Although I don’t remember great topics of intimate conversation. I never talked about myself or my feelings. If he did, he would do it very superficially. He avoided talking about his childhood and family. Some topics were vetoed, so he cut the conversation off instantly if they were mentioned. This created in me a feeling of being gagged and not being able to talk about certain topics. I think my high ability to listen was distracted by her siren song.
What I have noticed is that their behaviors create cognitive dissonance. What I said did not relate to what I was doing, and it did not relate rationally in principle from an empathic point of view.
Although today I have come to understand his motivations and why things, I believe that these are not and cannot be justified or an extenuating circumstance.
Today, I still have a great capacity for listening, but something more selective. I don’t listen to people’s problems, because I’m nobody’s garbage can, where to pour into myself. Now I only hear what I want to hear and this limits a lot of interactions.