Listen to be heard

As a general rule, do not just repeat another person’s exact words. Summarize their experience in your own words. But in cases where people actually scream or shout something, sometimes you may want to repeat a few of their exact words in a quiet tone of voice to let them know that you have heard it just as they said it.

If the emotion is unclear, make a tentative guess, as in, “So it sounds like maybe you were a little unhappy about all that…” The speaker will usually correct your guess if it needs correcting.

Listening is an art and there are very few fixed rules.

Notice if the other person accepts your summary. Pay attention to whether the person speaking accepts your summary by saying things such as “yeah!”, “you got it,” “that’s right,” and similar responses.

Empathy is a form of sharing feelings. If you can identify with what the other person is experiencing, express a little of the feeling that your conversation partner is expressing. Emotionally flat summaries feel strange and distant.

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