Listening With HEART

Listening is the Swiss Army knife of communication skills. It comes in handy in every conceivable human interaction, from dealing with a difficult situation, to handling an irate customer, to resolving an interpersonal confrontation.

Many have endeavored to capture the key ingredients in listening, so I have decided to throw my hat into the ring as well.

I call my approach to active listening Listening With HEART:

H = Hear the Other Person fully before responding. This may be the toughest part of listening. We have to make the choice to listen, especially when we are busy, preoccupied, and distracted. When you focus on the Other, pay attention to What is being said, as well as What is not being said. This includes the non-verbal signs the person is displaying, plus their feelings and tone of voice.

E = Empathize with the Other Person’s feelings and point of view. Empathy doesn't mean agreement. It means trying to see (and feel) what the Other Person is going through.

A = Assess the situation. Analyze what the Other Person is saying. Ask questions to find out: What is the problem? What does he/she need from me? Apologize as necessary.

R = Respond to the Other Person so they know the action you are going to take. Let them know what to expect next.

T = Take the action you said you would do. Then, follow up later with the Other Person to see where things stand.

Listening well is hard work. You'll know that you listened well if you are tired afterward.

The leadership expert John Maxwell says, "To listen well is as powerful a means of communication and influence as to talk well."

When you listen with heart, you will be listening powerfully.


Posted by Terrence Seamon on Saturday June 4, 2011. Looking for more ideas on improving communication in your company? Terry Seamon is a Learning & Organization Development consultant with Facilitation Solutions, a training and organization effectiveness practice based in New Jersey. He has designed and delivered training for his clients on leadership, coaching, engagement, managing, communication, customer service, conflict, stress, teamwork, and change, and has written extensively on these and many other topics. Invite Terry to your organization to speak with your teams. Call today and discover how Terry can help you achieve your goals: 732-246-3014.

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