At Chantilly Mediation and Facilitation, we are all about helping leaders create happier workplaces. Every day, I train managers and leaders on how to resolve conflict, build a happier workforce, and use emotional intelligence at work.
There are several keys to this work, but one of the most basic skills that can serve you well with coworkers, clients, and in your personal life, is active listening.
When I train on active listening, I do a fun exercise where I pair people up, one person gets to tell a story, and the other one has to summarize the story and guess at an emotion expressed during the story - it’s been a hit every time! (So far.)
Active listening because is key to building your empathy muscle, which is key to increasing emotional intelligence, which is basically all about our social interactions as humans. And, yes, being socially adept at work increases productivity, profits, and teamwork.
Given the importance of active listening in building teamwork and rapport, and given how interested clients are in the topic, I’ve put together a brand new free guide - you can go download it right now at that link. But here’s a bit more info if you’d rather read the short version:
As human beings we are naturally wired to express empathy. In fact, one form of empathy is involuntary.
Have you ever smiled or laughed because someone else is laughing, even though you have no idea what they’re laughing about?
Have you felt stressed while a friend is telling you about something difficult they’ve been through, even though you haven’t experienced it yourself?
Have you ever cried during the proverbial Hallmark commercial?
Involuntary expressions of empathy like these are natural & normal. Some of us experience it more than others, but we all experience it. It’s called affective empathy.
Guess what? There’s also a thing called cognitive empathy. When we actively think about and try to feel what other people are feeling, we’re using our brains to pay attention to emotional cues that may or may not be verbal. We can understand what others are feeling even when we don’t feel it ourselves (at least in an involuntary way).
Active listening increases both affective and cognitive empathy. And, when you develop empathy, you’re also increasing your emotional intelligence, a factor highly linked with success.
So what IS active listening?!?
Active listening includes several things:
No judgment. Not even internally!
Listen to hear and to understand – not to solve a problem, or to respond (or worse, to retort).
Seek to understand the meaning behind the words.
Seek to understand the substance of what’s being said.
Provide feedback to check and convey understanding, and to get corrected if you’re a little off – or maybe completely wrong. (It happens to all of us sometimes.)
If you want to really make progress on an issue – with a client, with a partner or co-worker, or with a loved one – you have to start with active listening. No one solves a problem or resolves a conflict or makes progress on an issue being hashed out without really understanding where the other person is coming from, what they’ve experienced.
Want to learn more? Our new free guide goes over the hows, the whys, and some of the scientific evidence to support the importance of active listening AND empathy at work!
Would you prefer an in-person consultation? Just contact us today!