Losing a Superhero: A Reminder to Listen with Empathy

Fans and many former co-stars were shocked to learn of Chadwick Boseman’s passing after a four-year battle with colon cancer. Boseman starred in and promoted films like Black Panther, 42, Get on Up and more—all while quietly undergoing treatment for Stage III and Stage IV colorectal cancer.

In recent months, Boseman had been ridiculed and questioned about his weight loss and health prompting him to remove one video he uploaded prior to an awards show appearance. It didn’t have to be that way.

“Friends and family, and even strangers, may feel they have a right to know or have a voice in someone else’s journey,” said Amber Olson, LCSW, director of Behavioral Therapy Services at Memorial Behavioral Health. “Unfortunately, the bullying Mr. Boseman received serves as a reminder to show others compassion, empathy and kindness. You don’t know what challenges a person is facing or how your comments can negatively impact their mental wellness.”

Olson encourages empathetic listening, also known as active or reflective listening, which is simply being attentive and responsive to others when engaged in a conversation.

Here are some ways to practice this technique:

  1. Be aware. Recognize when you are a part of a conversation that requires empathy.
  2. Talk less. Receive information more than you share information.
  3. Ask questions. Listen to others and show interest by asking relevant questions.
  4. Avoid judgment. Refrain from criticism, even if you disagree. Be mindful of times you have been misunderstood, and recognize that another person’s perspective and experience differs from yours.
  5. Hold your input. Instead of giving your opinion or trying to solve their problems, ask clarifying questions like, “Would you like my feedback?” or “How can I support you?”
  6. Learn and move forward. If you have made communication mistakes in the past, learn from them.

“Take note of ways to listen with empathy and show kindness, and use them,” said Olson.

Need to talk?  

Memorial Behavioral Health has counselors who can help you with emotional wellness. Schedule a telehealth appointment today.

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