Photo Credit: josephkaminski.org
As many people celebrate love in February, it got us thinking about what constitutes good marriages or good relationships, for that manner. There are many factors, but perhaps one of the most important, is communication. Communication, or a lack there of, can make or break the quality of a relationship. Reflecting on what makes someone an effective communicator, we believe that listening is one of the most important communication skills to learn.
Listening is such an important communication skill that we can acquire because it’s the primary way that we develop relationships, understand others, and build trust. Listening is not just hearing the words that people are saying, it’s what allows us to interpret the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ behind people’s words. Hearing is an ability, while listening is a skill. This means we have to actively work on it and grow it. In our life and businesses, we are constantly working on being a more active, reflective and empathetic listener.
Empathetic listening is a way of listening and responding to another person that improves mutual understanding and trust. If you ever read the book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, in Habit 5, he discusses “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” We as humans, form opinions based on our own experiences. Stephen Covey defines empathetic listening as seeing the world the way they see it, through their “lens.” He defines listening as the intent to understand. Empathetic listening requires you to develop a greater connection with the people you are communicating with.
Here are a few tips to improve your empathetic listening:
In a world full of distractions and when it is easy to multi-task at the palm of your hand, it is important to be engaged in listening. Empathetic listening can create an environment of collaboration and allow both parties to develop a stronger, more trusting relationship. Remember, listening, especially empathetic listening, is a skill. It requires practice and active participation. We hope that this blog at least inspires growth in your listening and encourages you to be more present in your conversations.
Brandon & Amanda