Active and Empathetic Listening: Listen Up!

6 June 2016

There are a multitude of situations where active and empathetic listening strategies can be applied in order to improve mutual understanding and respect, such as in interviews, business meetings, hostage negotiations, personal disputes, as well as in therapy.  In order to effectively utilize these strategies it is vital that both parties seek to gain more understanding of the interaction.

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For example, if you are applying for a job and the person interviewing you is explaining what your responsibilities would be, it would be to your benefit to allow him or her to finish their description before interrupting with a question.  If you make eye contact and nod your head when you agree with the person this also shows that you are following what they are saying (Salem).  This is an effective use of silence in your communications repertoire and it demonstrates respect for the person that is taking the time to discuss the job with you.

Furthermore, if your goal is to get the job it would be to your benefit to demonstrate your ability to hold a professional and productive conversation with people that you may not personally know.  In this way, if you are an active and empathetic listener, the employer will have confidence in you as a potential representative for that particular organization.  These techniques will build trust and collaboration and in turn that person will be more likely to extend to you the same courtesy in the future – all of which will help progress your communication goals in the future.

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