Today’s letter for the AtoZ Blogging Challenge is ‘L’ for my theme ‘A to Z of Effectiveness’. You can read more about my theme here. I’m also participating in the NaBloPoMo for April.
In today’s world, a lot of emphasis is put on the way you come across, the way you speak, smile and look. This is what Stephen Covey refers to as the ‘Personality Ethic’ in his book, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’. A good part of propagating this ethic is with expression, mainly speaking, which is one of the four major forms of communication, the other three being reading, writing and listening.
There are many courses out there that help you write better and speak better, and of course, we learn reading right from our toddler years. But what about listening? Apparently our education system and the modern world in general do not think much of just shutting up and listening!
But Stephen Covey does. In his book, he stresses on interdependence as the ultimate goal, for which effective communication is crucial. And what good is communication when one does not know how to listen? The book also stresses on a particular kind of listening (who knew there were multiple kinds!), called Empathic Listening. As you can guess, it has to do with empathy.
Often, when someone talks about their troubles, we respond with our experience of a similar situation and offer an appropriate solution. That isn’t empathy; it’s sympathy. To be empathetic, we need to ‘listen to understand’ rather than listen with the purpose of formulating a reply.
Imagine talking to a person when you are troubled and this person listens intently; and when he does respond, you get the idea that he’s been inside your head and understands your position very well. How comforting would that be? Any advice coming from such a person would feel a lot more reliable and at the very least, you get an objective view of things. So the next time someone wants to talk to you, forget about what you’ll say; just zip your lips and listen!
Going by the definition of empathic listening, would you consider yourself a good listener? Or do you know anyone who is?