Emotionally Intelligent?-Avoid use of these words

Emploi Administrator | 17th December 2019

Emotionally Intelligent?-Avoid use of these words

Emotionally Intelligent?-Avoid use of these words

Emploi Administrator | 17th December 2019


Recently, my friend Pete was going through such a bad breakup and the whole experience for her was awful. Being a believer of: “a problem shared is a problem half –solved”, she decided to seek solace from her dearie.

Her dearie listened keenly and after the long monologue, this was her response: “don’t worry, I have been through the same, girl, forget about this dude and get into the dating scene.

Well, Pete was very disappointed with the response of her friend whom she had trusted and thought that she would offer her a shoulder to lean on. She felt let down. But on the contrary, her dearie felt that she had helped her solve the problem.

Her dearie may not have understood the whole point of her friend “lefting” despite her offering support.

The above experience is familiar to us. We all face tough situations in our lives and at that moment we expect support response instead of shift response.

What’s the difference?

A shift response involves an attempt to guide the conversation toward your life experiences, and away from the experiences of the person you’re ostensibly listening to and perhaps even trying to help.

A support response sets aside your ego, and instead keeps the focus on the other person’s feelings and experience.

A few examples will make this clearer:

  1. “I’m so sad since my breakup.”

Shift response: “You just need to get back out there and start dating again.”

Support response: “What do you think stops you from being able to move forward?”

  1. “If I could just manage my time well, I’d have the world on a string.”

Shift response: “I know, I have the same problem.”

Support response: “What do you think stops you from keeping time?”

Derber calls the whole phenomenon, at least the part in which well-meaning people shift the discussion to their own experience, as “conversational narcissism.”

The successful strategy to communicate effectively and leverage emotional intelligence requires avoiding phrases like these:

“I know exactly how you feel.”

“I’ve been through this before.”

“I completely understand; or, I get it.”

And replacing them instead with things like the following:

“I’m sorry that happened.”

“I can imagine how you may feel.”

“Thanks for sharing this. Tell me more.”

Just like Pete’s friend, sometimes we don’t always realize the true effects of your words. However, always remember that the whole point here is to acknowledge how hard it is to really put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and instead make clear that you have empathy.

Next time a person comes to you with problems, please remember to offer support response.


By Jane Daniel,

Communication Assistant-Jobsikaz

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