Empathy: Listening that Heals – October 19

Would you like to further hone your listening skills and learn about empathy as a kind of listening? The Congregational Care Ministry Team invites all those who are interested to join us as Reverend Dynna Castillo Portugal provides training in Empathy: Listening that Heals on October 19 from 7:00-8:00 p.m.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Just as love of God begins with listening to God’s Word, so the beginning of love for others is learning to listen to them. It is God’s love for us that God not only gives us his Word but also lends us his ear. So it is God’s work that we do for others when we learn to listen to them.” This workshop will teach empathy as a kind of listening that springs from love and has the potential to bring healing to our hearts and minds. Participants will learn the difference between empathy and most of what passes for listening in our culture and they will get a chance to practice and hone their listening skills.

Reverend Dynna Castillo Portugal, Ph.D. is a faculty fellow at Western Theological Seminary where she teaches pastoral care and counseling and practical theology. She has received significant training in Clinical Pastoral Education and Nonviolent Communication. She is an ordained pastor at her home church in Mexico City and an accomplished worship leader as well.

In today’s high-tech, high-speed, high-stress world, communication is more important than ever. Genuine listening has become a rare gift. It helps build relationships, solve problems, resolve conflicts, ensure understanding and improve accuracy.


  1. Face the speaker and maintain eye contact. How much attention are you really giving?
  2. Be attentive, but relaxed. Be present, give attention, apply yourself, be ready to serve.
  3. Keep an open mind. Listen without judging or jumping to conclusions.
  4. Listen to the words and try to picture what the speaker is saying. Try to create a mental model of the information being communicated.
  5. Don’t interrupt and don’t impose your “solutions”. Interruption says “I’m more important and interesting than you are and “I don’t care what you think”.
  6. Wait for the speaker to pause to ask clarifying questions. Say “back up a second, I didn’t understand what you just said…”
  7. Ask questions only to ensure understanding. Stay on topic.
  8. Try to feel what the speaker is feeling. Empathy- put yourself in their place.
  9. Give the speaker regular feedback. Show them that you understand.
  10. Pay attention to what isn’t said- to nonverbal cues.

-Excerpts from FORBES/WomensMedia, by Dianne Schilling