Week 3 - Empathetic Listening
Problem: The most frequent error when we communicate in work environments is to only pay attention to the technical aspects of the conversation.
Empathy: Derived from the idea of feeling sympathy or affinity, empathy is about tuning into the sender of a message.
Learn to understand messages from others, not only by paying close attention, but also with emotional understanding.
Consider dialogue and empathy as tools to resolve conflicts.
Lets first consider 3 Levels of Listening - Hearing-Listening-Empathy
- Hearing: The basic perception of sounds or noises around us. It is automatic and doesn’t necessarily involve paying attention.
- Listening: Goes beyond just hearing, as it requires attention to understand the content of a message.
- Empathy: This deeper level of listening involves understanding the emotional state of the speaker. It identifies not just what is being said, but how it’s being conveyed emotionally.
Infographic that details the 3 levels of listening
Respecting and validating the emotions of others without judgment. It involves using phrases that reflect the speaker’s emotions, ensuring them that their feelings are recognized and understood. Examples include: “I can see this situation is making you very angry,” or “I’m sorry this family problem is worrying you so much.”
+ Dialogue is an invaluable tool for confronting differences + respect and tolerance. At the same time dialogue helps remove obstacles + Dialogue is composed of two basic skills: the ability to communicate and the ability to listen
Errors that hinder empathy
- Ignoring or not paying attention to what is said.
- Pretending to listen to someone, but having our attention elsewhere.
- Listening only to the aspects that interest us, ignoring all of the others that are not relevant to us.
- Identifying only the technical aspects of work tasks, ignoring the emotional states and moods of others.
- Ridiculing or belittling emotions that are shared.
- Constantly imposing our authority as team leaders.
11 Aspects of Empathetic listening
Empathetic listening is not just a skill but an essential aspect of human interaction that plays a multifaceted role in our personal and professional lives.
Building Connection: At its core, empathetic listening is crucial for building genuine connections. It fosters an environment where individuals feel valued and understood, creating bonds that are both deep and meaningful.
Growing Trust: Trust is a foundational element in any relationship, be it personal or professional. Empathetic listening facilitates the growth of trust by showing the other person that you’re truly invested in understanding their feelings and perspective.
Demonstrating Genuine Interest: More than just an act of hearing, empathetic listening is an active demonstration of one’s interest and willingness to understand another’s viewpoint. It’s a clear sign that you’re not just passively hearing but are deeply engaged in the conversation.
Facilitating Common Progress: For teams or partnerships to move forward, a shared understanding and vision are essential. Empathetic listening paves the way for creating this shared vision by ensuring that all voices are heard and understood.
Promoting Collaboration: In today’s interconnected world, collaboration is key. Empathetic listening lays the groundwork for effective collaboration by ensuring that everyone feels valued and that their inputs are genuinely considered.
Self-awareness and Personal Growth: Practicing empathetic listening also invites introspection. It can lead to personal growth as listeners often confront their own biases or preconceptions to truly understand someone else. This challenge to one’s own viewpoints can result in an expanded understanding of diverse perspectives.
Healing and Support: The act of being genuinely heard can be therapeutic. Whether in personal relationships or professional counseling settings, empathetic listening provides a platform for emotional healing, offering solace to those who share their feelings and experiences.
Conflict Resolution: Whether in boardrooms or living rooms, empathetic listening is a powerful tool for conflict resolution. By delving into the emotions and concerns underlying disagreements, it becomes possible to find common ground and mutually beneficial solutions.
Enhanced Decision Making: Decisions made after empathetic listening tend to be well-rounded and inclusive. They take into account a broader range of perspectives, leading to outcomes that are often more holistic and satisfactory.
Reduced Stress and Anxiety: Both the speaker and the listener stand to gain emotional benefits from empathetic listening. A conversation where one feels heard and validated can ease emotional tensions and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
Skill Development: While some individuals might naturally lean towards empathetic listening, it’s a skill that, with dedication and practice, can be honed over time.
In conclusion, empathetic listening is not just about understanding another person; it’s about bridging gaps, nurturing relationships, and fostering an environment of mutual respect and collaboration. As society grows increasingly complex and diverse, the ability to listen with empathy will only become more invaluable.
5 Steps for Empathetic Listening
Empathy, as an interpersonal skill, has the power to tap into profound human emotions, enhancing communication. Consistent practice of empathetic reflection can lead to more meaningful interactions and positive feedback from those around you.
Empathetic listening involves a technique that allows for understanding both the content of the message and the emotions with which it is delivered. To effectively practice this skill:
1) Preparation: Reflect on your thoughts and emotions about the situation and try to gauge how the other person might feel. It’s essential to be objective, avoid generalizations, and remain open to what the other person has to say, even if you disagree.
+ What is the topic we are going to deal with in this session?
+ Who is going to participate in the meeting?
+ How do I feel about this, and how do the others feel?
+ What can I do to show interest in the emotional states and not just the technical aspects?
+ What kind of emotional words can I use that will show authentic empathetic reflections?
2) Active Listening: Eliminate distractions and give the speaker your undivided attention. This means putting aside other tasks, like turning off the TV or setting down your phone.
3) Body Language: Maintain eye contact and avoid aggressive or dismissive gestures. This non-verbal communication conveys interest and understanding.
4) Affirmation: Use connecting words or sounds like “I understand” or “tell me more” to maintain the connection and show that you’re actively involved in the conversation.
5) Reflective Phrases: These convey emotional understanding. Instead of offering judgments or self-centered responses, use phrases like “I can tell you’re worried” or “You sound happy.” This keeps the focus on the speaker’s emotions.
+ “I can see you’ve dedicated a lot of team to doing this task. Thank you!” + “I hear it’s been a lot of work dealing with such a difficult client, and I understand what you mean, and I feel the same way.” + “I’m really sorry you’ve had to go through such a painful situation.” + “I can feel that you’re discouraged and not motivated to do this job.” + “I can see you’re happy about the promotion you got. Congratulations!”
Examples to illustrate the difference between typical and empathetic responses
- Typical: “Let’s go to sleep. You should have told this to your colleague.”
- Empathetic: “I see you had a challenging day and feel frustrated about the work situation. Would you like to discuss it further or rest now?”
- Typical: “That’s what you’re paid for. It’s not a big deal.”
- Empathetic: “Congratulations on the excellent work! You seem motivated and happy about it.”
More details about [[3QxbaOVpSkuMW2jlafpLxQ_df0fa90fa9cf4cb9a823f2bc7cbbbc57_Empathy-as-a-tool-for-active-listening.pdf|EMPATHY AS A TOOL FOR ACTIVE LISTENING]]
Errors in communication
- Being impatient or authoritarian
- Being disrespectful to the person we are dialoging with
- Entering the dialogue with an attitude of “deafness”
- Not requiring pertinent explanations
- In order to be truly empathetic, we need to exercise the skills of an active listener: paraphrasing, seeking clarifications, reflecting with empathy, and asking the necessary questions to explain the message.