Better Ways of Listening

Empathetic Listening
(Covey, 2004)

Empathic listening means getting inside someone else’s frame of reference by “listening” to their body language, tone, expression, and feelings. It’s a tremendous deposit in the emotional bank account. In contrast to empathic listening, we tend to listen from our frame of reference (even if we are listening attentively) and have these “autobiographical responses”:

  1. Evaluate (agree or disagree)
  2. Probe (ask questions from our own frame of reference)
  3. Advise (give counsel based on our own experience)
  4. Interpret (explain people’s actions based on our own motivations)

By listening empathically instead of forcing our natural autobiographical responses onto each situation, we can get beyond a surface-level, transactional exchange and have a real impact. Needs based thinking stops motivating people once those needs are satisfied. Satisfy the need to be understood, and you can move on to being productive.

Active Listening

  • Make the environment safe
    • Good eye contact
    • Stand at an appropriate distance
    • Have a good, receptive posture
  • Pay Attention
    • Focus on them
    • Clarify
  • Show that you are listening
    • Encouragement words
    • Clean questions
  • Provide feedback
    • Repeat back in their own words
    • Using Um’s and ah’s
  • Don’t interrupt
    • Listen
    • Don’t be thinking of your anecdote
    • Don’t jump in as soon as someone has finished
  • Respond appropriately
    • Clarification questions & Follow up
    • Empathetic response: What they feel and what they think

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When people start devaluing one another’s thoughts, feelings, or needs in some way, they are attacking their connection like a pack of wolves.

Danny Silk

Effective Listener

  1. Thinks and mentally summarises, weighs the evidence, listens between the lines to the other’s tone and voice and evidenceWorks to find the same value in the comments – what’s in it for me
  2. Fights distractions and sees past bad communications habits, and knows how to concentrate
  3. Has two or three ways to take notes and organise important information
  4. Interprets emotional wording and doesn’t get hung up on it to catch their attention
  5. Holds eye contact and helps the speaker along by showing an active body state
  6. Judges content, skips over delivery errors
  7. Listens for Central Ideas

Poor Listener

  1. Tends to have their mind wander with slow speaker
  2. Tunes out if the subject is dry or they have heard it all before
  3. Is easily distracted
  4. May take intensive notes, but the more notes taken, the less value
  5. Interrupts and finishes sentences
  6. Answers with Advice – even if that wasn’t called for
  7. Gives no feedback or response
  8. Changes the subject back onto the Listener’s interests
  9. Reacts immediately to logic flaws and emotional words
  10. Shows no reaction, energy output
  11. Judges the customer’s delivery – tunes out
  12. Listens for facts