It only takes a few seconds to demonstrate empathy. Whenever someone expresses an emotion, take the time to acknowledge it. This can build rapport and is respectful and kind. To demonstrate empathy, it isn’t necessary to label the emotion. All of us have different definitions of anger, frustration, anxiety, or sadness and what that emotion means to us. It is only necessary to:
• Acknowledge their feeling
• Let them know you care about them and what they are feeling
• Validate their feeling
You can communicate that you care about their feelings without labeling or defining the feelings. Remember that your impression and definition of those emotions are probably somewhat different than theirs and labelling their emotion incorrectly can damage rapport.
Rather than saying, “you seem angry," or, “I can see that you’re anxious," it is best to be empathetic in a more general way.
• “I can see that was really concerning to you!”
• “It seems like that was hard to deal with!”
• “Wow, anyone would find that difficult to manage.”
Each time the person answers a question about reproductive goals or a question about contraceptive preferences, listen carefully and then re-phrase what they said.
Pay attention to words, facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice.