Jane Birdsell, a retired psychologist, was fascinated when she frequently heard people express their need to be understood more than anything else. She went on a quest to learn more about what it is that allows a person to think they have been understood. She learned that empathy is essential for developing healthy relationships. This awareness caused her to feel passionate about the importance of empathy. Thus, she was inspired to write her book Emotional Enlightenment: Managing Feelings for Success.
Readers are encouraged to learn the skill of empathic listening, which enables people to understand others. It requires listening to understand not to respond. When people can actually hear the thoughts and feelings of another person, without judging or offering advice, they are able to understand life from the perspective of the other person. The other then feels understood and becomes more self-accepting. It facilitates mutual respect, essential for healthy relationships.
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Influenced by Carl Rogers, a psychotherapist in the United States who strongly believed in the importance of empathic listening, Jane Birdsell employed this skill in her work as a psychologist for 25 years. She recognized the value of empathy for it helps people become more self-confident and more self-directing. As she became aware of this, she began to think that empathic listening should not be used exclusively in the health professions. She believes that all people who have the responsibility of influencing others should learn to use this vital communication skill. This includes parents, teachers, administrators and other professionals who work with people.
Her book, Emotional Enlightenment: Managing Feelings for Success helps readers learn how to use this skill. It is a practical resource offering exercises, which allows one to see by example how to listen to the thoughts and feelings of others. One of the advantages to those who learn this skill is that they are often respected by the people with whom they live and work. Healthy relationships can then be established.