A casual conversation doesn't require exceptional skillfulness. Courtesy, honesty and openness are all one needs. Oh, and taking turns speaking and listening.
However, when the person speaking with us is worried, upset, hurt, confused, concerned, etc.--that is, when emotional energy is present--then the first thing that person needs is to be heard, understood and acknowledged.
We may think we have the best advice for that person, or we may want to share a similar situation we once experienced. To do so would be a major communication mistake.
To be effective when emotional energy is present, wait with anything else you wish to say until you have done these three things--hear, understand and acknowledge.
Summing it up: “When emotional energy is present, the first thing that people need is to be heard, understood and acknowledged.”
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(c) 2009 Uzi Weingarten