Some of the risks faced by the person using empathy and listening skills–empathic listening–are mentioned to help you weigh the rewards versus the risks of an investment in strengthening and practicing these skills. Being forewarned also may help you sustain your motivation to continue learning despite periods of discouraging results.

Before you continue to read this page, consider getting oriented to this six-page website by reading its Home Page, titled Empathy, Listening Skills, and Relationships.

I, Lawrence J. Bookbinder, Ph.D., use the term “listening skills” to include both listening and acknowledging what was heard or understood.


Hazards of Empathy and Listening Skills   oooooooo

Examples of the possible problems for the person using empathy and listening skills are:

  • becoming depressed from listening with an open heart to someone talk about her despair
  • becoming upset again three weeks after his home was burglarized from listening to someone talk about her home being burglarized
  • becoming confused about his endorsement of the death penalty from immersing himself in the thinking of someone who is expertly justifying her opposition to it
  • becoming disappointed in himself from losing his belief he is unprejudiced after noticing he listens inattentively to people of races different from his
  • forgetting what he wants to say because of focusing on what the other person is saying
  • being avoided by a friend who became ashamed to see him after his use of empathy and listening skills moved her to blurt out that during an argument with her twelve-year-old son she exploded and punched him
  • discovering that some people will never feel touched by his use of empathy and listening skills
  • .


The purpose of this website is to provide general information about empathy and listening skills and their links to good relationships, emotional intimacy, happy marriages, and psychological hugs, and not to provide advice on solving psychological or relationship problems. Any psychological, physical, or behavioral reactions that you may experience from reading this site and/or using its information is not my responsibility. I am also not responsible for any psychological, physical, or behavioral reactions of the person with whom you may be using the information on this site.

For information about my qualifications to write this website, read the Empathy and Listening Skills – Author page.


If you liked this site, e-mailing me your thanks will help sustain my motivation to keep it going for future visitors.

Empathy, Listening Skills, and Intimacy is an expanded version of the above website.

Empathy and Listening Skills is a discussion board which includes messages from me and my responses to messages from others. To read or post messages, you do not have to register. Visit the board to read questions and answers, ask or answer questions, share experiences, etc.

Sympathy versus Empathy explains the differences and similarities between sympathy and empathy.

Listening Skills contains a description of listening to my wife talk about her grocery shopping trips.

Communication Skills illustrates my use of nonverbal “listening skills” during a conversation to assess whether the other person is receiving my message.

Listening Skills Professionals Listen Empathically – 1 explains why I advocate that society establish the profession of empathic listener as a profession separate and independent from that of psychotherapist.

Copyright © 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006 by Lawrence J. Bookbinder, Ph.D.