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Empathy in Practice: Enhancing Listening Skills with BioGraffs

BioGraffs is dedicated to helping individuals gain profound self-awareness and giving them the tools necessary to help others to truly understand them. But BioGraffs also helps the listener. Many of us are more focused on expressing our own thoughts and opinions rather than truly hearing what the other person has to say. Consequently, we fall into common listening traps that get in the way of truly hearing.

  1. Being preoccupied with our response, while we mentally prepare our rebuttals or counterarguments.

  2. Mistaking listening for agreeing, so needing to jump in and "correct."

  3. Interrupting and dominating the conversation by steering it towards our own experiences or opinions.

  4. Holding on to our preconceived notions or judgments rather than empathizing with the speaker's perspective.

It's so important to listen well, if you want the other person to feel valued and heard. It's the best way to build empathy and developing meaningful connections. BioGraffs creates a conversation dynamic that specifically addresses these four pitfalls.

  1. The "storytelling" structure of explaining the BioGraff keeps the listener focused on the story rather than what they are going to say next

  2. The visual emphasizes that the story is one point-of-view. It's specifically a "view."

  3. People are naturally reluctant, usually, to interrupt stories. The visual cues the listener that this story is a unit and it has a foreSEEable end point, so it reduces interruption.

  4. It enhances empathy with the speaker's perspective.

BioGraffs naturally facilitates a conversation style that is particularly powerful. Mirroring is from the Imago relationship therapy technique developed by Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt, and is a skill that is worth knowing. It involves reflecting back the speaker's words, emotions, and body language, allowing them to feel truly heard and understood.

BioGraffs starts by defining a space for the BioGraff maker to talk for an extended period, structured around explaining their BioGraff, just like how in a mirroring exercise the speaker is directed to talk about a prompt uninterrupted by the listener except in very prescribed ways. This creates safe space for the speaker to share their thoughts and emotions openly.

Mirroring encompasses three essential components:

  1. Verbatim reflection: the listener paraphrases the speaker's words to ensure accurate comprehension. By repeating their words, they confirm that they have heard correctly and encourage further elaboration.

  2. Emotional reflection: the listener acknowledges and validates the speakers emotional state to foster an environment where emotions can be openly explored.

  3. Body language reflection: the listeners uses positive and engaged body language and gestures to demonstrate they are fully present and engaged in the conversation.

Similarly, listeners are directed to paraphrase what they are hearing and ask questions to elicit further elaboration. This is close to a natural response to listening to someone explain their BioGraff. The image creates a natural response of curiosity about cube meaning and why things were placed one way or another. The body language of the listener simply looking at the BioGraff, maybe pointing at cubes as they ask questions, demonstrate engagement.

BioGraffs creates many conditions that help a person be a better listener:

  1. It defines a space where the listener is repeatedly reminded that this is not a time to interrupt or steer the conversation differently.

  2. It gives the listener a way to demonstrate active engagement by looking, pointing, and asking questions to gain more understanding.

  3. It gives them easy access to open-ended questions that encourage the speaker to elaborate and delve deeper.

  4. It gives them a blueprint to follow if they are encouraged to repeat back, reflect, or summarize what the speaker has shared.

Being a good listener in difficult conversations is an invaluable skill that many people struggle with. BioGraffs can help people learn good listening skills. There is a universal longing to be seen and understood. BioGraffs helps dismantle communication barriers to create pathways for overcoming challenges and cultivating meaningful connections.

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