Whenever we’re going through something difficult, we turn to friends, family or someone we trust.
It’s because we want to share our feelings with someone who’ll listen to us and understand us without judgment.
Empathic listening is about paying attention and being responsive while listening to someone. The qualities of an empath include feeling what others are feeling—understanding where they’re coming from. Compassion is at the heart of empathic or empathetic listening.
You can be an empathic listener both in your personal and professional life. Let’s look at the definition of empathic listening and how it can help you become a better person.
What Is Empathic Listening?
The meaning of empathic listening is rooted in attentiveness, showing compassion and being kind to others when they’re speaking. Empathetic listening is built on mutual respect and it shows that you’re paying attention to the speaker.
Here are some examples of empathic listening to help you understand:
Khyati’s teammate suddenly tells her that she wants to quit. Concerned, Khyati asks her why and if there’s something she can do to help. Her teammate expresses her concerns while Khyati listens patiently—without giving her advice.
Kiran finds it hard to speak up during meetings. She’s unable to get her points across and her colleague, Maya, notices this. Next time, Maya makes it a point to invite Kiran to speak without putting her on the spot.
Prakash enjoys working with his team so when his manager moves him to a different floor, he expresses his disappointment. His team member finds an opportunity to convince their manager to let him continue working on the same floor as them.
Each of these examples of empathetic listening shows that you have to listen before you react, make assumptions or make judgments. What the speaker needs is a chance to express their feelings and emotions. Not only will this help you understand others but encourage positive interactions at work.
Practicing Empathic Listening Every Day
The Harappa EAR—Empathy, Authenticity and Respect—of listening is an effective strategy that you can follow to practice empathic listening. Based on this framework, here are some ways to be more empathetic as a listener:
Observe Nonverbal Cues
While you’re listening to someone, don’t just focus on their words, but look at how they stand or sit, their facial expressions, gestures and body language. These nonverbal cues are essential attributes of empathic listening. You have to look for signs that tell you more than what the speaker is conveying with their words. This will help you pay close attention to them.
Encourage Them To Speak
Rather than speaking out of turn or giving your advice or opinion, encourage the speaker to finish what they’re saying. Many times, we make the mistake of talking over someone or not waiting for them to complete their sentences. Creating a space where someone can talk uninterrupted will make your coworkers rely on you and reach out to you when they need someone to talk to.
Acknowledge Their Ideas
If you can acknowledge someone’s ideas, feelings and emotions, it means that you’re an empathic listener. It’s important to step back if you want to make room for others. For someone to feel valued, you have to tell them their words carry weight. Only then will they open up to you and even be encouraged to put their best foot forward.
Pay Attention, Ask Questions
Another great way to make someone feel appreciated is to ask questions, but only at the end of the conversation. Not only does this show that you were paying attention but also expresses your interest. The speaker will be happy to learn that you appreciate their time and effort. You can collaborate with your teammates in a far more productive way by learning to ask relevant questions.
Respect The Speaker
Respecting the speaker as you’re listening is something that’ll help you build stronger connections at work. If the speaker feels you’re distracted or uninterested, it may offend them or hurt their feelings. Make a note of how your behavior affects the speaker for effective communication.
Larry King, a renowned American television and radio host said it best, “I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So, if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.”
If you want to find answers to ‘what is empathetic communication’, master the art of empathic listening. Conversations built on mutual respect, understanding and empathy can lead to positive results in the workplace. Harappa’s Listening Actively course will teach you frameworks like the EAR of listening to develop the right skills and become an active listener.
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