Listening is an effective way to forge a strong relationship with the other person or persons engaged in a conversation. It involves three steps:
- Receiving the message communicated by the sender
- Interpreting it for arriving at the meaning and
- Responding to the message
If this process is to be complete and effective, you need to make a conscious effort in all the three steps – hearing and interpreting the sounds, grasping the meaning of words spoken (and unspoken) and responding appropriately. Otherwise communication will get derailed and you will not get the expected results. With empathetic listening, you can build trust and help the other person open up. Eventually, you can get the best out of the conversation.
Empathetic listening works well in resolving disputes because you can understand the disputant well. You can reduce tension because you allow the person to be heard. Thus, you can bring the disputant to a possible solution through dialog and without hurting his/her sentiments.
Let us now look at a few aspects of empathetic listening.
Allow the other Person to talk more
In active listening, it is not about you dominating the conversation but sharing the dialog with your partner. So do not try to dominate the conversation by imposing your ideas on the other person. Instead, encourage the other person to express himself/herself more by showing interest in what he/she is saying. In this regard, your body language plays an influential role, so ensure that you use friendly gestures.
Keep Asking Questions
By asking the right question at the right time, you can help the other person to express himself/herself better. Never sound interrogative. This will discourage your partner. Judiciously use open ended questions such as ‘what’, ‘how’, ‘when’ and so on. Do not critically evaluate the other person’s statements. If you do not get a point, paraphrase his/her words and ask if you have understood him/her correctly.
Reflect on what is being said
The term empathetic means feeling the same way as the other person. This involves going beyond the literal meanings of the words and exploring the feelings attached to them by the speaker. This will give you a better idea about what the speaker is really feeling beneath his verbal communication. You can accordingly prepare your response so that it will not hurt the other person’s feelings.
By doing so, you convey the message that you respect the speaker and his/her feelings. Thus, you can build a positive relation with him/her. Once you earn his/her trust, you can mould his/her extreme opinions and bring him/her to an amicable solution. Thus, you can be a better communicator in disputes.
Do share your thoughts on the same.