This week is Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 2-8). Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the United States, 43.8 million or 18.5%, experiences mental illness in any given year. Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13-18 (21.4%) experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life.
This episode is dedicated to the power of empathic listening. We all can benefit by making a concerted effort to connect and really listen to each other. We all need to be heard. We need a witness to our pain and struggle and joy and triumphant moments. Download this episode. (right click to download)
Mike Kabeya of Kabeya Media, and, my sound engineer and photographer, is in the studio to discuss the power of empathic listening. To start, we each check in and give updates about our lives and upcoming mentoring session episodes.
There are two main types of listening considered the foundation of all listening types. Discriminative listening and Comprehensive Listening. Discriminative listening is developed at an early age, perhaps in the womb. A baby learns to discriminate between sounds of parent voices. As we age, we acquire life experiences increasing our ability to recognize subtleties in foreign languages and regional accent differences. You will also learn to decipher clues to how a speaker is feeling and what they are experiencing emotionally.
Empathic Listening, also referred to as therapeutic listening, is an interpersonal skill required for deep connection and an attribute in healthy relationships. It is particularly important as leaders and small business owners to be able to understand how to work effectively with others by learning to listen carefully. Listen to your employees. Listen to your customers.
Looking at the speaker, or person you are talking to, with kind eyes can increase your connection with them. Empathic listening is attempting to understand the feelings and emotions of the speaker. You can hear this skill in action during each podcast episode. Nancy sets the stage.
Mike speaks six different languages. How does language assist in the deepest level of listening, empathic listening? You will find out in this episode. Tune in. This episode will help you learn how to listen more deeply and connect with others in a genuine way.
The five levels of listening. From lowest to highest, are:
- Ignoring – ourselves and not listening to others.
- Pretending to Listen – while occupied with your own thoughts or actions.
- Selective Listening – not hearing every word or hearing from your own reference point, formulating answers while the other is speaking.
- Attentive Listening – listening, but still at the surface, not as deeply as possible, remaining with own reference point.
- Empathic Listening – listening with the intent to understand, without a personal agenda, vulnerable to change, with open ears, eyes, and heart.
Track how you are listening. Can you understand what the speaker is telling you? Can you identify what they are feeling? Can you make a difference in someone’s life through empathic listening? Try.
Once you have started noticing how you listen, collect data about how you respond to people. There are four autobiographical responses which inhibit empathic listening.
- Judging – evaluating, comparing, labeling which distracts one from hearing the speaker.
- Advising – attempting to fix instead of connect.
- Probing – asking questions, not to understand, possibly to pass along what is found out from the speaker to others.
- Interpreting – projecting, presuming you know what they are going to say and turn the focus back on you.
At the end of the week, ask yourself, what have I discovered about myself? What adjustments can I make to become a more empathic listener?
Continue to listen more deeply by focusing to understand. One important conversation can make a difference.
Mentoring Conversation Resources
In Yoga Teacher Training at Lifetime Fitness, I learned how to listen to understand. References for this episode came from my Yoga Teacher Training Guidebook and www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/listening-types.html.
The statistics above come from the National Alliance on Mental Illness. More information is available at www.nami.org/miaw/.
The Power of Empathic Listening, Episode #41
Next Monday’s Mentoring Conversation:
Mike Barrett, C.P.A. and partner, with Mazanec, Bauer and Associates, P.L.C. is back in the studio for a second mentoring session. We unearth how he grew up. In the first episode, we discussed his 25 years as a CPA and partner, and the 25th birthday of the World Wide Web. www.mazanecbauer.com