Practice empathic listening skills.
There are many benefits to doing this activity. The first one is that real learning comes through repetition and teaching the methods to others. When you teach this material to colleagues and family, not only do they gain new learning and growth, but you also get to embed the skills deep within yourself.
The second most powerful thing is that through doing this daily, you are getting the important repetition in order to make it a habit, and you are getting valuable feedback that will increase your self-awareness and effectiveness in listening empathically.
Lastly, your level of understanding, communication, and presence with others will deepen significantly. You will appreciate them more, they will appreciate you, and as a result, you will build powerful, very effective, and enriching relationships in all areas of your life.
Choose two people that you know well.
You may want to choose a personal and a professional acquaintance—though not necessary, this will give you different perspectives.
Tell these two people that you want to practice your listening skills.
Explain to them the five levels of listening as explained in the summary of this chapter—not listening, pretending, selective, attentive, and empathic—and tell them that you want to practice your empathic listening skills over the next weeks.
Follow these tips on empathic listening:
Completely open up to understanding the world of the other (by suspending your own agenda and perspectives).
Check out your understanding periodically by reflecting back key words and key emotions that you are picking up on. Remember: This is about listening to what is not being said as much as what is being said—it’s about sensing emotions and using phrases such as “I get the sense that … ,” “I get the impression … ,” “I get the feeling … ,” etc. So you might be saying, “I get the sense that you are not very happy right now.”
This kind of phrase take courage and has the potential to open up the conversation to a much deeper level, but only if needed, as it may well be that you don’t pick up on anything other than what is actually being discussed.
Ask them for daily feedback on how you are doing (for the next 20 days).
Ask for feedback such as answers to the following questions: What have they noticed that you are doing differently? What works well? What doesn’t work as well? What is the impact on them of this level of listening from you?
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