How to practice empathic listening

It starts with mindset.  We begin by saying “prepare to be amazed.”

Next, we focus our attention on listening fully to the other person.  As Stephen Covey suggests, we listen with our ears, our eyes, and our heart. 

We put aside the clever thought which pops into our head.  Instead, we choose to listen.

Importantly, we resist the urge to prepare what we are going to say while the other person is talking.  We trust the right words will come.  Because we have listened deeply, there will be a reservoir we can draw from.  

1:  We ask open-ended questions.  “What’s your thinking about…?”  Or, the three magic words: “Tell me more…”

2:  We reflect back what we heard, paraphrasing key points without adding our evaluation or opinion.  “What I heard you say was…”  Or, “If I understand you correctly…”

3:  We empathize and reflect back feelings.  We convey support and concern. “You seem upset…”  Or, “I sense your disappointment…”  Or, “I imagine you’re frustrated…”

4: We clarify and elicit additional information, bringing into focus areas which may be unclear.  “Can you give me an example?”  Or, “Tell me more…”

5: The ninja move is to summarize key themes or patterns, so the other person feels heard.  “You seem concerned about…”  Or, “The key idea you are sharing seems to be…”  Or, “What I’m taking away from what you said is…”

6: Finally: “Is there anything else?”

H/T: Stagen Leadership Academy‘s Conscious Communication module.

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Reflection:  Which of the skills above is my strength?  Which is a skill I could work on?

Action: Be intentional about using these skills in a conversation today.

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