Leaders Improve Their Impact with Empathic Listening

Have you ever been in a discussion with someone and thought, “I don’t have time for this?” We all rush through our roles and responsibilities with tasks to accomplish, people to help, and goals to meet. Without thinking, it’s easy to forget how to listen and then jump to inaccurate conclusions. But there is a strategic skill set you can develop and apply to change this vital error of our leadership ways —Empathetic Listening.

Empathetic Listening is an active process to discern what another person is saying. It involves reflecting on what a person is feeling when he or she is talking. Listening to their words, to their satisfaction, so they feel heard and understood is also essential. There are five key steps to learning to be an Empathic Listener:

1) Be Non-Judgmental: Don’t project your personal emotions into the discussion.

2) Give Your Undivided Attention to the Individual: Make direct eye contact.

3) Listen Carefully to What the Person is Saying: Listen to their heart and connect emotionally.

4) Allow Silence for Reflection: Learn to be comfortable with momentary silence.

5) Learn to Ask Clarifying Questions: “So what I hear you saying is…”

Learning, and more importantly applying, these essential steps will enable you to actively listen, accurately interpret the speaker’s message, and then provide an appropriate response, all the while minimizing conflict and maximizing productivity.

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