Yes, that is true. But is that enough? Psychologists say that it is not. So, what is needed to be a better listener? Well, the answer is empathic listening.
Empathic listening is about truly acknowledging and understanding the person who is talking to you. This means it is much more than active listening. It involves non-judging, compassion, connection, intent, and empathy.
It is needed most when someone needs to be understood, seen, and heard. This is particularly true that someone may not be coming to you for a solution or a fix to their problems. So instead of telling you what to do, this post will focus on what not to do while listening to someone. If you want to become an empathic listener, please read on…
1. When trying to be a good listener, refrain from giving advice:
Statements like “ I think you should do this…”, “Why don’t you do that…” are not signs of empathy bur they give the message that you know better than the person speaking as to what they should do. Giving advice without being asked for it, can make you sound like a condescending and dismissive know-it-all
2. Correcting or interrupting the speaker: Statements like:
“Wait for a second, you said something else that last time we spoke…”, “Hold that thought! Didn’t you mean that….” are ill-timed and obtrusive to the person speaking to you? Try not to abruptly interrupt. It is not only rude but quite unempathetic too.
3. Explaining the situation or justifying yourself
Saying things like: “I would have called but…”, “But I did not mean to hurt you”; statements starting with these words usually sound like justifications or explanations that seem to make the speaker feel invalidated and/ or dismissed. Instead of using “but” try to use ‘and, in addition to, plus…’ among other words. These seem to have a better impact on the speaker’s frame of mind, without making it sound like you are defensive or protecting yourself.
4. Making it about yourself:
“Well … here is what I would have done!” Well, as long as nobody asked you, refrain from making it about yourself. Telling your own story or an incident only makes you come across as self-absorbed and self-congratulatory!
5. Consoling the person:
You might think that saying things like: “It wasn’t your mistake … “, “You did the best you could have done… “, “It could have been so, so much worse … ” etc are making the speaker feel better but actually they make people feel like they are being looked down upon. It may also bring up feelings of being treated like a child or even a lesser person!
6. Shunning how they actually feel:
This is probably one of the worst ways to listen to someone. It leads us to come across as indifferent, unconcerned, and dismissive. When we exhibit that energy, people start to perceive us as distant and even cold, not to mention unapproachable. Some examples are: “Can you stop pitying yourself?”, “Oh come on! It is not that bad!”, “Cheer up! Don’t be sad”, “What are you even this mad for?” etc.
7. Sympathizing with the speaker:
Another word for sympathy is ‘pity’. When you say something like “Oh, you poor thing!” you are pretty much sending a message to the speaker that they are lesser of a person for going through something difficult or challenging; maybe because they haven’t handled it too well.
8. Questioning in an interrogative manner:
Some ineffective ways of asking a question include: “But how come you did this, of all the people, you!?”, “When did this occur?”, “Why did you not tell me?” “Why didn’t you call right away!?”
. 9. Evaluating or ‘schooling’ them:
Statements like: “You’re being too unrealistic”, “You always see yourself as a victim. You should really stop doing that!”, “The problem with you is that…”, “If only, you weren’t so aggressive in nature…” are all great ways to come across as a judgmental and snobbish person.
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