Let’s talk about something that’s going to define your future — your skill in empathetic listening. The way you react to people who speak to you can influence their perception of you. First impressions are hard to shake (especially if it’s a bad one). The best way to start off on the right foot? Attentive listening. The benefits of empathic listening are enormous. Learn how to engage in empathic listening by reading on below.
Empathetic Listening: Tips to Have Meaningful Conversations
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Sounds simple enough, right? Well, it’s often a lot harder to practice. This is true especially when a person’s point of view is different from yours (and in your mind, wrong). Conversation partners should seek to understand. But that can’t happen if the thought isn’t fully communicated, and when you take a single statement out of context.
Ex. “You should kick a dog…if it’s attacking a child.”
You might still disagree with that comment, but you can better understand the speaker’s point of view after hearing the qualifying statement. It’s the first step to effective communication and listening.
Empathetic listening takes the next step to understand the other person’s worldview. Has the speaker had a traumatic experience that might lead them to that opinion? None of that can come to light if the conversation was interrupted and ends at the first part of that statement.
Practice Attentive Listening
So, do you really listen? There are two types of listening:
- Listening with the goal to respond
- Listening with the goal to understand
Let’s talk about listening with the goal to respond. It means that as you speak with someone, you focus on forming your response to every statement. This leads to missing their entire meaning.
Now, what is attentive listening? It means seeking to understand the deeper reasons behind a speaker’s opinion. You then come up with your thoughts and responses based on this understanding.
Practice Affirmative Listening
One of the best responses to get empathetic listening right is with a question. Affirming what you heard is a great way to show the person that you’re trying to understand their point of view. You also show that your response is taking their thoughts into consideration. Try to echo back everything you’ve heard and ask them to elaborate on some points they mentioned.
Let’s go back to the previous example. The speaker might have been attacked by a dog as a child or had a child of their own attacked. Empathizing with that situation may lead you to have a very different opinion about that comment. If you still disagree, the speaker will ideally be more open to try and understand your point of view. And this is because they know that you’ve gone the distance to do the same.
Have you formulated opinions without fully listening and understanding the situation? Learn to practice empathetic listening instead! The next time you engage in conversations, listen to hear and comprehend. When you do this, your conversations and relationships will be more fruitful. The benefits of empathic listening are always favorable for anyone in the conversation.
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Watch this video for the empathetic listening tips on how to be a better listener:
What hinders you from becoming an empathetic listener? How will you apply the tips we talked about? Share your ideas with us in the comments section below!