Three Ways Leaders Can Listen with More Empathy

The ability and willingness to listen with empathy is often what sets a leader apart.  Hearing words is not adequate; the leader truly needs to work at understanding the position and perspective of the others involved in the conversation.

In a recent interview, Paul Bennett, Chief Creative Officer at IDEO, advises leaders to listen more and ask the right question.  Bennett shared that “for most of my twenties I assumed that the world was more interested in me than I was in it, so I spent most of my time talking, usually in a quite uninformed way, about whatever I thought, rushing to be clever, thinking about what I was going to say to someone rather than listening to what they were saying to me…

Research has linked several notable behavior sets with empathic listening.  The first behavior set involves recognizing all verbal and nonverbal cues, including tone, facial expressions, and other body language….

The second set of empathic listening behaviors is processing, which includes the behaviors we most commonly associate with listening.  …

The third set of behaviors, responding, involves assuring others that listening has occurred and encouraging communication to continue. .. 

Christine M. Riordan