Empathic listening

communication is the most important skill in our life. We spend most of our waking hours communicating. We spend most of our years learning how to read, write and speak. Listening is ignored. Generally people don’t listen to understand, they listen with the intention to reply. They are either speaking or preparing to speak. They are filtering everything through their own paradigms. It happens with so many of us. We are filled with our own rightness, our own autobiography. We want to be understood. Seldom people understand what’s really going on inside other human being. Generally listening is done at one of the four levels. It may be ignoring another person, not really listening at all. People may practice pretending. “Yeah. Uh-huh. Right” Or it may be selective listening, hearing only certain parts of the conversation. It may be attentive listening, paying attention and focusing energy on the words that are being said. But very few of us practice the fifth level, the highest of listening, empathic listening. Empathic listening does not refer to an “active” or “reflective listening” which is skilled based. Here you listen with intent to reply, to control, to manipulate. Empathic listening means listening with intent to understand. It gets inside another person’s frame of reference. You look out through it, you see the world the way they see the world, and you understand how they feel. The essence of empathic listening is not that you agree with someone, it’s that you fully, deeply, understand that person, emotionally as well as intellectually. It involves much more than reflecting the words that are said. You listen with your ears, but more importantly, you listen with your eyes and with your heart. You listen for meaning. As communication expert estimate, that only 10% of our communication is represented by our sounds, 60% by our body language. Empathic listening is so powerful because it gives you accurate data to work with. Instead of projecting your own and assuming thoughts, feelings, motives and interpretation, you are dealing with the reality of other person’s heart and mind.

Dr. Preetpal Kaur