4 Steps to Empathetic Listening

Article By: Lewis Senior
Lewis Senior is a co-founder and co-CEO of Equilibria.  Lewis’s E-Colors are Yellow/Red.  Follow this link to read his complete bio

During a morning walk with a fellow Yellow/Red Coach this week, I was asked how I  am able to manage my Yellow/Red tendencies, and listen to people without an apparent desire to jump in and finish their thoughts and sentences. A few years ago, this was an impossibility for me.

My answer was that there are four steps involved, and my guess is that many people will be able to relate to these, once put into practice.

STEP 1. Use the time-proven principle of ‘Listen to Understand and then seek to be Understood’. Sounds simple enough, so what is the mechanism for getting to where we can manage our desire to jump in, and listen, really listen to what’s being said.

STEP 2. Gain a deep understanding of the inverted listening pyramid that is on page 51 of the Personal Intervention Deskbook (see the sample below).  The thought process takes time once the choice has been made, depending on a person’s E-Colors, and natural tendencies may well influence where they start their journey on the pyramid. For me, just keeping quiet, as opposed to always talking, was a huge step and then realizing that if I was keeping my mouth shut, I may as well listen, and from there the experience of beginning to really listen was remarkable.

STEP 3. Utilize the Pause and Play mechanism, 
again well explained in the Personal Intervention Deskbook. I choose to always wear my Personal Intervention Wristband as it acts as a great reminder
for me to press my ‘Pause button’, when I have a desire to speak when it’s not my turn, and to press my ‘Play button’ to re-engage and listen carefully to what is being said.

STEP 4. Remember that as leaders, supervisors, parents, co-workers, team members, fellow students etc there’s a lot to be gained by utilizing a simple but effective Planned Experience Checklist, where we can go into a conversation having already considered various key success factors. One certain factor is that any conversation will ALWAYS go better when we first listen to understand, and then seek to be understood.

Inverted Listening Triangle

Lewis can be reached by skype (michael7056) or by sending a message to: lewis.senior@equilibria.com.  You can also get in touch with Lewis by commenting on this blog.  Just leave a reply below and we’ll relay your message to him.

If you haven’t established your E-Colors yet, please visit www.equilibria.com and complete your PDI – it’s free!