A friend and I were discussing the point that effective communication is most likely to occur when the other person feels that you understand his or her situation. This is an underlying premise of negotiation theory: You are more likely to be successful at a negotiation when you understand the other person's underlying interests and when you make it clear to that person that you do. To do otherwise, whether in negotiations or other settings, is likely to lead to speaking at a person, rather than to the person. Not because you mean to, but because the other person will not value what you say, compared to when they think you really "get it."
One of the things I learned in my hospital days was how to accept gratitude. A hospital can be an uncomfortable place for patients and family members. It is a strange physical environment, where people are anxious because of feared or actual medical conditions or forthcoming procedures or tests. In that situation, when you do something kind for someone, the person is truly grateful. It can be as simple as offering directions, or picking up a fallen object, or something much more serious.
When I started working in the hospital, when someone would say "Thank you" to me, I would often answer, "It's nothing," or "No problem." Wrong! I was taught that such an answer devalues the gratitude that the other person is feeling. A more appropriate response is, "It is my pleasure," or "I am so pleased I was able to help." That indicates that you understand their feelings.
Over the years, I trained myself to do this. Lo and behold, once I got rid of the "It's nothing" conversation stopper, people would jump in and continue the conversation even further. I was able to learn so much more about people's fears, expectations, experiences, and hopes and then help translate those into improvements in the clinical environment.
Try it. It's not "nothing."