Feelings – we all have them, but we aren’t always in touch with exactly what they are. And there are so many types of feelings, so many words associated with them. When you’re listening, it’s important to be cognizant of the nuance of feelings. While there are two broad categories of feelings – those when your needs are satisfied, and those when your needs are not satisfied (as per the Center for Nonviolent Communication here: https://www.cnvc.org/training/resource/needs-inventory) – the precise term makes a difference. There is a world of difference between dislike and horrified.
So a regular delve into the various categories is helpful, to have the right term at the tip of your tongue, to help your person feel heard and validated. Did you notice that the two broad categories are “when needs are satisfied” and “when needs are not satisfied”, rather than “good” and “bad” feelings? All feelings have their place. Yes, some are more comfortable to sit with, and others are less comfortable, but there is nothing wrong with a feeling. It can be useful to check in with yourself a few times a day to see if you can name what you are feeling. Practicing this skill internally helps create the knowledge and vocabulary to understand others.
So, you don’t have to make twenty funny-looking emotional faces. Just get familiar with the feelings.