Are you listening to respond?


Many people have trouble relating to others, especially those they may have adverse feelings toward. This is a critical leadership skill, however, and as leaders, we should actively address it. The key is empathic listening – the ability to imagine yourself in someone else’s position and to intuit what that person is feeling. It is the ability to stand in others’ shoes, to see with their eyes, and to feel with their heart.

To practice effective empathic listening, you must develop an attitude of openness and curiosity, as well as a willingness to suspend judgment – and the following skills will start you on your journey. Try one skill this week as you engage in your typical interactions, and anchor it throughout the week. Incorporate another the next week, and before you know it, you’ll be adding empathic listening to your leadership toolbox!

Presence: The ability to be connected – mind and body – to the person as they speak.

Paraphrasing: The skill of repeating what was said in your own words – “Let me see if I understand what you are asking…”

Clarifying: The skill of asking good questions, which obtain more information and help to provide context.

Open-ended Questions: The skill of asking questions that lead the person to give you more information, rather than providing simple yes or no answers (e.g., What happened next? What reaction did they have to this? What consequences do you anticipate?)

Feedback: The skill of sharing what feelings and reactions you experience as you hear the story, as a way of allowing the other to have insight into your thoughts.

Using the skills above will help you identify areas where you need to improve in your listening. Subscribe on iTunes to our GetEmergent podcasts for more tools and insights for better communication.

Have a great week!

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