Despite the countless amount of education we receive on communicating through speaking, reading and writing, we receive very little instruction on listening effectively.
To positively influence other people, you first need to understand them. In order to understand them, you must first learn to listen.
The most effective form of listening is empathetic listening. Listening with the intent to understand the other person’s perspective.
You can learn to listen empathically through four stages:
- Mimicking or Active Listening - The first step is practising attentive listening, which involves repeating a person’s words back to them. This method prevents autobiographical responses but is ineffective beyond that because you are merely repeating, not processing what has been said.
- Rephrasing - The next step is rephrasing the content. Rephrasing requires you to process what you’ve heard and to think about what has been said. Rephrasing uses logic; in the next step, you must consider emotions.
- Reflection - The third step involves reflecting on the feelings being expressed by the person. You understand their perspective by focusing on the person’s emotions and words.
- Integration - The final stage is integrating stages 2 and 3. You rephrase the content of what the person has said to process what has been said and reflect on the feelings being expressed.
When you practice empathetic listening, you show your desire to truly understand the other person. This powerful tool is essential for developing strong connections and relationships.
Combine this with effective communication, and you have yourself a powerful platform to create meaningful change through your work and life.