By Teen Coach: Melanie Black
The first thing we all need to understand when it comes to the topic of empathy is that it is a skill. It is not something we are born with, but rather something we have to work on and learn how to incorporate into our relationships with people. Empathy is the ability to understand a person’s feelings and thoughts, or situation from their perspective. When it comes to good communication empathy is necessary.
No relationship is perfect and there will be conflicts that need to be resolved. When parents and teens have issues, empathy can help prevent arguments from escalating and improve the relationship. Two types of communication help parents and teens develop empathy.
Level One Communication: is listening and speaking for the sake of yourself.
Level Two Communication: is listening and speaking for the sake of another and envisioning their experience from their perspective.
Nether level of communication is better or worse than the other and both are essential to communication between parent and teen. However, most people use level one communication more than level two. This can cause conflict. Below are some questions to consider when conflict arises that help develop level two communication as well as the important skill discussed above, empathy.
- Person’s Name:
- From their point-of-view, what are they experiencing? (seeing, touching, hearing, feeling):
- What is most important to them?
- What are their biggest worries and concerns?
If both parent and teen honestly consider these questions when there is a conflict, and before blowing up at each other, they can have a stress free relationship filled with love and respect.