When someone tells an empath their problem(s) – what do they really want?

As empaths, we get stories from people a lot. We get life stories, simple day-to-day stories or stuff that’s on their mind.  Often this happens in grocery checkout lines, at school activities, at work and any other times friends and strangers come together.

When this happens, we don’t always know what to do. Even though we’re empaths, we are feeling you, but we don’t know what you want.

For example, someone may say

“Frank ignored me in the meeting today!”

In which case, we wonder, what do you really want from us? How do you want us to respond?

1. Do you want sympathy, and for us to say: “That must be horrible for you – and I totally understand why you’re upset. There, there!”
2. Do you want us to offer a palliative, and say: “Perhaps they were just a bit focused on something else – I’m sure they’ll be OK with you next time”.
3. Do you want us to challenge your thinking, and say: “Are you sure you were making your own points clearly and purposefully enough – remember, there are two sides to everything”.
4. Do you want us to coach you on the point, and say: “This has happened before – why do you think they behave in this way? What do you feel YOUR part in it might be?
5. Do you want us to simply listen?

Sometimes they want us to fix it for them. We don’t generally fix things for people, we guide them in ways to help them fix it themselves.

When someone brings you their problem, unless they’re explicit, you usually won’t know what they want from you.

Here’s the kicker: Neither do they.

Sometimes it’s easiest (and hardest) to wait in silence for a while, eye contact is good, so they know you were listening. People who want or expect something will fill that silence with their wants and needs. They may then say something like “What do you think I should do?” or “Why do you think he’s being like this?” or “I guess I’ll just have to speak to him.” or “Could it be something I did?”

Look out for clues that could guide you into being what they need at that time. I’m a big fan of just listening, not offering any advice, sympathy, excuses, challenging or coaching.

Just listen.