Listening properly in just 8 steps

Like every step towards healthy communication, empathic listening is a question of routine. The following steps will help you implement and internalize the model.

1. Let your discussion partners know that their viewpoint is important to you and that you want to understand them.

2. Put your own needs aside while you are listening.

3. Listen to what is actually being said with an open mind. Don't judge or evaluate.

4. From your perspective, how is the other person feeling at the moment? What emotions are being imparted along with the words? What needs can you hear in the statements, in other words: what does the other person really want? (Remember: the issue is not always what the other person is actually saying.)

5. Reflect the feelings and needs that you perceive to the other person. Phrase questions (see above) and don't be afraid to be wrong; if you are mistaken, this can be corrected in the next step.

6. Ask if your assessments are correct and, if necessary, listen to what the person then says impartially and without judgment. Take what the other person says seriously; it's about him or her, not you.

7. If you have clarified feelings and needs, ask whether the other person would like to hear your strategy or ideas for action or whether he or she is satisfied with the present situation.

8. When the other person has explained his or her position, ask whether they are prepared to hear how you feel and discover what is important to you.

Angela Dietz

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