Listening With Empathy

By using empathic listening methods, you’ll be able to hear a great deal more than what a person is saying. As a matter of fact, you will actually “hear” if an individual is holding something back or if they’re simply overcompensating for something.

Why is this listening thing such a big deal anyway? I guess it hinges on what you want out of life. The bottom line is that unless you are a hermit with utterly no human interaction, the way you behave in conversations will directly and deeply affect the success of that interaction.

Whether you are a boss or an employee, a parent or child, spouse or friend, prospect or client, or yes, even a benefits adviser, your success will be determined by your ability to not just hear, but to listen. Many of us hear words and sounds passively, as opposed to listening actively.

Few of us were not formally taught how to listen. It is little wonder listening is such a challenge for most of us. Try establishing and maintaining good eye contact – just do not go to a creepy extreme. It’s amazing how much more you are able to engage intellectually and emotionally with an individual just by maintaining strong eye contact. And remember, if you’re talking to a prospect, their buying inclination is going to start with the emotional feeling they develop toward you, much more than what they consider the quality of your service, tool, or product.

Among the biggest obstacles in interpersonal communication is our tendency to react autobiographically–meaning from our own reference system. We advise, probe, translate, and evaluate others’ messages based on our own experiences and motives.

Once we listen with the intent to comprehend (“empathically”), we’re able to gain insights into some other person’s thoughts and feelings more precisely. Empathic listening is both a mental attitude and a skill.

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