Empathic listening is an often overlooked and misunderstood skill that delves deep into the emotions behind another person’s actions. By stepping into another person’s shoes, you can unlock countless benefits for yourself and others. With empathc listening you not only strengthen personal relationships, but it also fosters teamwork, trust, and decision-making to name a few. In this article, I’ll dive into the world of empathic listening, exploring its nine benefits, its powerful impact on personal relationships, and tips for making it a daily practice. So, are you ready to become a master of empathy?
“Man’s inability to communicate is a result of his failure to listen effectively.”Carl Rogers
Types Of Listening – Empathic Vs Other Types Of Listening.
Listening is a crucial aspect of communication, and when it comes to empathic listening, it’s essential to grasp what sets it apart from other forms of listening. Indeed, not only is empathic listening interesting compared to other types of listening, but it also significantly impacts both the listener and the speaker. Thus, let’s explore the various listening styles to better understand why empathic listening is so unique and powerful! To list, below are descriptions of the different types of listening:
1. Appreciative Listening.
This is done for pure enjoyment, such as to music, television, and comedy.
2. Comprehensive Listening.
This is done with the intention of understanding or learning something new. For example, listening in a training class, TED talk, or lecture.
3. Critical Listening.
This requires the use of critical thinking skills to analyze and evaluate the information presented. For instance, listening when making a decision when buying a car or hiring a job candidate.
4. Active Listening.
This is a technique in which the listener focuses on what the other person is saying, and then confirms the content of what was heard and the feelings the speaker projects about the message.
5. Empathic Listening.
This involves the mechanics of active listening, but it goes further. Namely, empathic listening seeks to understand the emotions behind another person’s action. Hence, empathic listening puts oneself in the other person’s shoes to see the situation from their perspective.
“We think we listen, but very rarely do we listen with real understanding, true empathy. Yet listening, of this very special kind, is one of the most potent forces for change that I know.”Carl Rogers
So the key thing about empathic listening is that you are putting yourself into another person’s shoes and understanding the why behind their behavior, emotions, and motives. For more details on types of listening, and empathic listening in particular, see Paretolabs’ How to Implement Empathic Listening to Engage your Team and PositivePsychology’s How to Improve Your Empathic Listening Skills: 7 Techniques.
“When the other person is hurting, confused, troubled, anxious, alienated, terrified; or when he or she is doubtful of self-worth, uncertain as to identity, then understanding is called for. The gentle and sensitive companionship of an empathic stance… provides illumination and healing. In such situations deep understanding is, I believe, the most precious gift one can give to another.”Carl Rogers
9 Benefits of Empathic Listening.
Empathic listening has many benefits, both for the listener and for the person being listened to. For example, it helps to create a deeper connection between two people, as the listener is able to truly understand the speaker’s feelings and perspective. It also allows the speaker to feel heard and understood, which can be incredibly empowering. Additionally, empathic listening can lead to better problem-solving and conflict resolution. To detail, below are the 9 benefits of empathic listening.
1. Builds Trust.
The whole goal of empathic listening is to understand the other person. Consequently if the speaker feels you understand them, then the speaker will increase their trust in you, the listener.
2. Improves Problem-solving.
When you empathically listen to a person, you get an understanding of their motives and the heart of the matter. Consequently, this enables the listener to grasp the real problem versus a symptom of the problem. So if you identify the real problem, this in turn will enable you to identify the appropriate solution.
3. Better Decision Making.
Without empathic listening, you can miss critical information or undervalue the input of others. On the other hand by listening empathically, you can pick up better information about people who are providing input into the decision-making process. Indeed, this is critical for you to make a good decision. Specifically, you get to know the why behind certain behaviors, emotions, and motives.
4. Improves Teamwork.
If team members empathically listen to their teammates, they build trust in each other as well as knowledge about each other. As a result, there is more team cohesion to effectively accomplish team goals. More importantly, teamwork improves significantly when leaders are empathic listeners.
5. Boosts Well-Being.
If we understand each other better through empathic listening, this contributes to a greater well-being and less tension for all of us. For example in a work situation, employees with a greater well-being will have less risk of burnout, less sick days, and less employee turnover.
6. Increases Productivity.
Through empathic listening, employees are happy and more productive.
7. Improves Customer Service and Communications.
Empathic listening is also good for improving customer service and resolving customer problems. Here customer service agents can better understand their customers and their problems to come up with an effective resolution.
8. Defuse a Conflict Situation.
Many times the reason people are in conflict with others is that they do not understand each other. With empathic listening, it helps people to understand the behavior, emotions, and motives of others. This in turn, results in less conflict situations and quick resolutions of problems.
9. Makes Listeners More Socially Attractive.
If you are an empathic listener, people are more satisfied when conversing with you. This in turn, makes you more socially attractive
For more on the benefits of empathic listening, see Paretolabs’ How to Implement Empathic Listening to Engage your Team.
The Impact of Empathetic Listening on Your Life.
Empathetic listening can have a significant impact on your life. When you actively listen to someone with empathy, it can help to improve your relationships and create more meaningful connections. Also, it can also help you to develop your emotional intelligence, as well as your ability to understand and relate to others. Without a doubt, the impact of empathetic listening is amazing. To list, see below:
- Increases the speaker’s self-esteem and confidence
- Speaker are more cooperation
- Reduce stress and tension
- Build teamwork
- Gains trust of speaker
- Creates an environment of openness,
- Effective way to gather information, share ideas and brainstorm thoughts
- Strengthens personal relationships
- Builds emotional intelligence to better handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically
- Creates an inclusive environment
- Creates valuable traits in the listener – humility, curiosity, and empathy
For more on the positive impacts of listening empathically, see Beyond Intractable’s Empathic Listening and TheMuse’s Why Empathetic Listening Is Crucial for Your Career
“Over the years, however, the research evidence keeps piling up, and it points strongly to the conclusion that a high degree of empathy in a relationship is possibly the most potent and certainly one of the most potent factors in bringing about change and learning.”Carl Rogers
How to Make Empathetic Listening a Habit.
Empathetic listening is a skill that can be learned and developed with practice. First to make it a habit, start by focusing on active listening. Also, listen closely to what the other person is saying, and try to understand their feelings and perspectives. Finally, once you have mastered active listening, you can start to incorporate empathy into your listening. As a result, you will show understanding and compassion for the speaker’s feelings, and respond in a way that is supportive and understanding. Furthermore with practice, empathetic listening will become a part of your everyday communication. Here are some recommended habits to consider when interacting with people every day:
1. Don’t Focus On Yourself.
To be an empathetic listener, you need to put your own needs aside for a while.
2. Avoid Distractions, Like Your Phone.
You won’t be able to listen if you’re distracted, so pay attention to what the other person is saying both verbally and non-verbally.
3. Be An Active Listener.
Ask questions to get more information and restate what you heard. React to the messages you receive to show that you understand.
4. Don’t Be Judgmental.
Don’t judge or be critical of the other person. If you’ve already judged them, you won’t be able to really listen.
5. Adjust Your Body Language.
For example, uncross your arms and look at the person. This will help create an environment for listening.
6. Ask Open-Ended Questions.
This will get the other person talking, rather than just giving yes or no answers.
7. Don’t Give Advice Without Being Asked.
This is a sign that you have enough information and don’t need to listen to the other person.
8. Don’t Fill Up The Silence Or Interrupt.
If you’re really listening, give the other person space to talk. That means no interrupting or talking over them.
“People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don’t find myself saying, “Soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner.” I don’t try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds.”Carl Rogers
For more ideas on habits and skills needed for empathic listening, see Conover Company’s Empathy – Empathic Listening and HappierHuman’s 9 Techniques to Improve Your Empathic Listening Skills.
Also, for more informative stories from Unvarnished Facts on Helping People, click here.
Writer and Supply Chain Tech Expert. Passionate about giving actionable insights on information technology, business, innovation, creativity, and life in general.