"Empathic listening (also called active listening or reflective
listening) is a way of listening and responding to another person that improves
mutual understanding and trust. It is an essential skill for third parties and
disputants alike, as it enables the listener to receive and accurately interpret
the speaker's message, and then provide an appropriate response. The response is
an integral part of the listening process and can be critical to the success of
a negotiation or mediation. Among its benefits, empathic listening
builds trust and respect,
enables the disputants to release their emotions,
encourages the surfacing of information, and
creates a safe environment that is conducive to collaborative
Active Listening by Carl R. Rogers and Richard E.
Farson ***** "Active listening does not necessarily
mean long sessions spent listening to grievances, personal or
otherwise. It is simply a way of approaching those problems which
arise out of the usual day-to-day events of any job.
To be effective, active listening must be firmly grounded in the basic
attitudes of the user. We cannot employ it as a technique if our
fundamental attitudes are in conflict with its basic concepts. If we
try, our behavior will be empty and sterile, and our associates will
be quick to recognize this. Until we can demonstrate a spirit which
genuinely respects the potential worth of the individual, which
considers his sights and trusts his capacity for sell-direction, we
cannot begin to be effective listeners"
"The active-listening approach, on the other hand, does
not present a threat to the individual’s selfpicture. He does not have
to defend it. He is able to explore it, see it for what it is, and
make his own decision about how realistic it is. And he is then in a
position to change."
"Like other behavior, listening behavior is contagious.
This has implications for all communication problems, whether between
two people or within a large organization. To ensure good
communication between associates up and down the line, one must first
take the responsibility for setting a pattern of listening. Just as
one learns that anger is usually met with anger, argument with
argument, and deception with deception, one can learn that listening
can be met with listening. "
(Has a section on "Problems in Active Listening:)
Active listening is not an easy skill to acquire. It demands practice.
Perhaps more important, it may require changes in our own basic
attitudes. These changes come slowly and sometimes with considerable
difficulty. Let us look at some of the major problems in active
listening and what can be done to overcome them."
1. we risk being changed ourselves… 2. changes the way we view ourselves
"Reflective listening is a communication strategy involving two
key steps: seeking to understand a speaker's idea, then offering the idea back
to the speaker, to confirm the idea has been understood correctly. It attempts
to "reconstruct what the client is thinking and feeling and to relay this
understanding back to the client". Reflective listening is a more specific
strategy than the more general methods of active listening. It arose from Carl
Rogers' school of client-centered therapy in counseling theory."
what the speaker said, using the listener’s own words. This is different than
paraphrasing, where words and phrases are moved around and replaced to mirror
what the speaker said. The reflective listener recaps the message using his own
"Active listening is a communication technique that requires the
listener to feed back what they hear to the speaker, by way of re-stating or
paraphrasing what they have heard in their own words, to confirm what they have
heard and moreover, to confirm the understanding of both parties.
The ability to listen actively demonstrates sincerity, and that nothing is being
assumed or taken for granted. Active listening is most often used to improve
personal relationships, reduce misunderstanding and conflicts, strengthen
cooperation, and foster understanding. It is proactive, accountable and
a type of listening behavior where the listener seeks certain information which
will appreciate, for example that which helps meet his/her needs and goals. One
uses appreciative listening when listening to goodmusic,poetryor
maybe even the stirring words of a great leader.
"The authors contrast
dialogic listening to active or empathic approaches. The dialogic approach has
four distinctive characteristics.
First, it emphasizes conversation as a shared
activity. Usually people focus their attention on their own views in
conversation. Active listening overcompensates for this tendency by
overemphasizing the need to focus attention on the other's views. In contrast,
in dialogic listening the focus is on "our" views and the emerging product of
listening stresses an open-ended, playful attitude toward conversation. The
authors note that modern Western culture values "hard" thinking which produces
certainty, closure, and control. Speculative, metaphoric, ambiguous thinking
is generally devalued. Dialogic listening seeks to recover and tap into the
productive creativity of this "softer" style of thinking. In contrast to the
"hard" style of most conversations, the "soft" style of dialogic listening
requires modesty, humility, trust, and a robust recognition of the other party
as a choice-maker.
Third, in dialogic listening, the parties focus on what is happening between
them, rather than each party focusing on what is going on within the mind of
the other. Stewart and Thomas say, "instead of trying to infer internal
'psychic' states from the talk, when you are listening dialogically you join
with the other person in the process of co-creating meaning between you."
Finally, dialogic listening focuses on the present (what we are doing now),
rather than primarily on future goals (what we will do), or on past events
(what we did then). Dialogic listening requires that one be fully present to
the process and one's conversation partner. This attitude of
being-in-the-present helps each party to unify his or her actions, intentions,
and speech. It can also ameliorate power differences."
Dialogic listening is an alternative to active listening which
was developed by John Stewart and Milt Thomas. Dialogic listening has four
First, it emphasizes conversation as a shared activity. It
encourages people to attend to their own views--and the other person's
views--at the same time, while active listening focuses primarily on the
other person's views alone.
Second, it takes an open-ended--the authors even say
"playful"--attitude toward conversation. It demands modesty, humility,
trust, and recognition of the opponent as a choice-maker.
Third, the parties focus on what is happening between them,
not what is going on in the mind of one or the other person.
And fourth, dialogic listening focuses on the present, rather
than on the future or on the past.
"Active listening is a way of listening and
responding to another person that improves mutual understanding. Often when
people talk to each other, they don=t listen attentively. They are often
distracted, half listening, half thinking about something else. When people
are engaged in a conflict, they are often busy formulating a response to what
is being said. They assume that they have heard what their opponent is saying
many times before, so rather than paying attention, they focus on how they can
respond to win the argument.
Active listening is a structured form of listening
and responding that focuses the attention on the speaker. The listener must
take care to attend to the speaker fully, and then repeats, in the listener=s
own words, what he or she thinks the speaker has said. The listener does not
have to agree with the speaker--he or she must simply state what they think
the speaker said. This enables the speaker to find out whether the listener
really understood. If the listener did not, the speaker can explain some
LISTENING - A KEY LEADERSHIP SKILL
First, close your mouth; then open your heart By Gail Reichert
How well do you listen? Listening is a key leadership skill identified in many
leadership competency models, either explicitly, or embedded under the
general domain of communication. ‘Of all the time we spend in
communication, by far the greatest is spent in listening.’
types of listening -
There are many names for different types of listening. Here is a collection of
types and the different names that get ascribed to them, along with a brief
description of each."
It is said that we have two ears and one mouth, which is a good hint for the
proportion in which we should use them. However, the art of listening is not a
widely practiced skill. Listening provides much useful information, yet good
listening skills are not that common.
"When I say empathic listening, I am not referring to the
techniques of "active" listening or "reflective" listening, which basically
involve mimicking what another person says. That kind of listening is
skill-based, truncated from character and relationships, and often insults those
"listened" to in such a way. It is also essentially autobiographical. If you
practice those techniques, you may not project your autobiography in the actual
interaction, but your motive in listening is autobiographical. You listen with
reflective skills, but you listen with intent to reply, to control, to
When I say empathic listening, I mean listening with intent to understand. I
mean seeking first to understand, to really understand. It's an entirely
different paradigm. Empathic (from empathy) listening gets inside another
person's frame of reference. You look out through it, you see the world the way
they see the world, you understand their paradigm, you understand how they
In empathic listening, you listen with your ears, but you also,
and more importantly, listen with your eyes and with your heart. You listen for
feeling, for meaning. You listen for behavior. You use your right brain as well
as your left. You sense, you intuit, you feel."
Reflective listening has its roots in the fields of
counseling and psychotherapy, particularly in Carl Rogers's
Expressed verbally and nonverbally though messages
such as "I follow you," "I’m with vou" or "I understand," empathy is
the listener's effort to hear the other person deeply, accurately,
and non-judgmentally. A person who sees that a listener is really
trying to understand his or her meanings will be willing to explore
his or her problems and self more deeply.
Select an issue on which you have differing
opinions…either a work related issue or a social issue. It is
important that you choose an issue about which you have differing
opinions, because that’s when it’s the hardest to listen to each
Begin your conversation with one person sharing their
perspective on the issue. The spotlight stays on that person until
they indicate that their partner clearly understands their
Caveat: When you are communicating your point of
view, share a few ideas and then let your listener clarify. Then
continue sharing more ideas.
The Benefits of Empathic Listening
"Empathic listening (also called active listening or reflective listening) is
a way of listening and responding to another person that improves mutual
understanding and trust. It is an essentialskill
for third parties and disputants alike, as it enables the listener to receive
and accurately interpret the speaker's message, and then provide an
appropriate response. The response is an integral part of the listening
process and can be critical to the success of a negotiation or mediation.
Among its benefits, empathic listening
increase the speaker's self-esteem and confidence,
tell the speaker, "You are important" and "I am not judging
gain the speaker's cooperation,
reduce stress and tension,
gain a sharing of ideas and thoughts, and
obtain more valid information about the speakers and the
Reflective Listening - David B. Rosengren It is vital to
learn to think reflectively. This is a way of thinking
that accompanies good reflective listening that includes interest in what the person has to say
and respect for the person's inner wisdom. Its key element is a hypothesis testing
approach to listening. What you think the person means may not be what they
really mean. Listening breakdowns occur in any of three places:
Speaker does not say what is meant
Listener does not hear correctly
Listener gives a different interpretation to
what the words mean
There are three basic levels of reflective
listening that may deepen or increase the intimacy and thereby change the affective tone of an interaction. In general,
the depth should match the situation. Examples of the three levels include:
1. Repeating or rephrasing
repeats or substitutes synonyms or phrases; stays close to what the speaker has said 2. Paraphrasing – listener makes a major restatement in which the
speaker’s meaning is inferred 3. Reflection of feeling – listener emphasizes emotional aspects of
communication through feeling statements – deepest form of listening
Theories of Communication: How to Listen Actively:
While the other person is talking – you mustconcentrate
on not talking. Pay attention. Look directly at the speaker.
While the other person is talking –listen,
don’t prepare your reply. Focus hard on this and practice
listening, not responding.
Ask for time to respondif
you need it (a few minutes, later, tomorrow).
how the person is behaving (e.g. yelling or screaming is a pretty clear
indicator, but not all behaviors are that obvious).
the person’s body language.
Demonstrate that you are listening: use your body
language to affirm that you are listening, e.g. nod your head or shake
Paraphrase or translate what the person said; reflect it back to them.
This is calledreflective
listening – you reflect backwhat
you think you have heard, it is a good technique for ensuring there is
For example, in dealing with angry customers focus on how you think they
feel: "So that I’m sure that I understand clearly, you seem to be
frustrated with our shipping time..."
Another example, in dealing with a question from an employee: "I want to
make sure I understand your request clearly; you need to work shorter
days due to your school schedule."
their position, you are re-stating what they said to ensure
understanding and clarity.
Recognize the individual’s feelings: "you seem to be
frustrated"; "you sound angry"; "you seem to be upset"
To conclude, effective listening enhances the communication
quality. It makes all attentive. It encourages optimistic attitude,
healthy relations and more participation. It leads to better decision- making
in an organization. Effective listening is directly related to our ability to
do team work. It must be noted that “We listen at about an efficiency rate of
25 percent maximum, and we remember only about 50 percent of what is delivered
during a ten minute speech/lecture/communication.”
Listening (wanterfall.com) Summary of Benefits of Active Listening All of the personal qualities at the disposal
of the listener can be brought to bear more effectively by employing the
technique of Active Listening. It is a formidable method of simultaneously
communicating and helping, and a far more powerful tool than its simple name
suggests. When it is used skilfully, Active Listening can:
Demonstrate the listener's undivided attention
the client to continue speaking
completely stalled narrative
the client regarding self-disclosure
the listener's understanding – or…
errors in the listener's understanding
gaps in the content of the narrative
the listener's overall understanding
the client's insight into the issues
Demonstrate the listener orientation to the client
Progressively build rapport between listener and client
How to Have
Successful Group Meetings(successful-meetings.tripod.com) Barriers to Listening There are many barriers to listening
attentively and comprehending verbal communication. First unchecked
emotions can play a large role. Anger, fear, and depression can effect
how one might listen to the speaker. Also called emotional noise, this
might cause listener apprehension. For example, talking with a
professor can be frightening, which might cause poor listening. Being
self-absorbed can also affect listening. Thinking about yourself or
your next comment stops your focus on the speaker. Language
differences will cause a strain on listening and comprehension. Also,
external noise and verbal clutter can be very distracting and will
cause attention shifts among the listener. If the listener is not
interested or the information is not wanted, boredom can occur.
Information Overload can cause the listener to remove him/herself
mentally from the discussion. Also, Information rate will cause
boredom or attention shifts.... (Guidelines for Good Listening).
and verbal clutter
Listening Skills - lesson plans
Students will identify types of communication styles, explain active/effective
listening skills, and demonstrate the ability to use active listening skills.
don't have patience's
simple and engaging
KID SMART: Learning to Listen - lesson plan (fcs.tennessee.edu) Reflective listening is a skill that parents can
use to improve communications with their children.
When parents demonstrate that they understand their children’s feelings,
children are more likely to be open with their parents and talk to them
about problems or things going on in their lives.
Empathy is most effective when it matches the person's feelings,
thoughts, and meaning. In essence, feelings become interchangeable. However, if
the peer support giver intensifies the feelings by adding to what the person
says, a deeper level can be reached. For example, if the person says, "I feel so
down today," the peer support giver can move more deeply if he/she says
something like this: "You feel really sad today." When "sad" is used instead of
"down," intensity is added, which allows the person to admit he/she is "sad."
Often feelings having a negative aspect are difficult to admit, and so when the
peer support giver suggests an emotion, it is somehow easier for the person to
admit. An important occurrence is that, as the person talks about feelings,
she/he actually feels them. It becomes difficult not to feel anger, for example,
when it is talked about.
REMEMBER: YOU ARE MOST EFFECTIVE WHEN YOU:
1. are an active listener paying attention not only to how
something is said, but also to what is said;
2. reflect feelings by identifying and intensifying them;
3. do not block communication by ordering, advising,
moralizing, excessively reassuring, bombarding with questions, arguing,
criticizing, withdrawing, and interpreting.
"Active listening is a structured form of listening and
responding that focuses the attention on the speaker. The listener must take
care to attend to the speaker fully, and then repeats, in the listener's own
words, what he or she thinks the speaker has said. The listener does not have to
agree with the speaker--he or she must simply state what they think the speaker
said. This enables the speaker to find out whether the listener really
understood. If the listener did not, the speaker can explain some more. Often,
the listener is encouraged to interpret the speaker's words in terms of
Active listening has several benefits.
First, it forces people to listen attentively to others.
Second, it avoids misunderstandings, as people have to
confirm that they do really understand what another person has said.
Third, it tends to open people up, to get them to say more.
When people are in conflict, they often contradict each other,
denying the opponent's description of a situation. This tends to make people
defensive, and they will either lash out, or withdraw and say nothing more.
However, if they feel that their opponent is really attuned to their concerns
and wants to listen, they are likely to explain in detail what they feel and
why. If both parties to a conflict do this, the chances of being able to develop
a solution to their mutual problem becomes much greater."
Founders of Imago Therapy, Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. and Helen LaKelly Hunt, Ph.D.
explain what Imago Therapy is and how to do it. You can learn more about Imago
Therapy and Dialogue and ways to make your marriage or relationship even better
The skill of reflecting back the meanings and feelings of group
members in order to test out the leader's understanding of their messages
(empathic listening). Carl Rogers referred to it as "reflection of feelings."
Interactive Focusing Processis
a forward moving edge of Focusing, incorporating Focusing into the building of
relationships. Through the Interactive Focusing Process, we are able to
develop empathy and compassion as well as self-empathy and self-compassion. We
finally have a "how to" teach empathy and compassion using the Interactive
Reflective listening, getting to the deeper qualities.
I want to be listened to with empathy and compassion.
They have 4 building blocks
1. Right environment - safety
2. The body felt sense
3. Compassionate - empathic listening from the bodysence
4. Storyteller as teacher
The idea of the "Storyteller as teacher!"
I'm teaching the listener how to listen to me.
Strategies to help the listener be a better mirror
'You got the words but is not the feeling.'
a continuous feedback loop - the speaker is resonating back to the
reflector if they were heard the way they want to be heard.
teaching the listener how to listen empathically to me.
this is so simple but is a key peace.
the story teller is the best teacher
This approach is very empowering for the listener and for both people.
The listeners can feel tense since they
feel it's a bit of a test for them to get it right. I know it is for
me. Others have said the same. It can make you tense - but it
doesn't need to be. In their process before, the emphasis was on the
listener to get it right. But now it's on the speaker to assist the
listener to be a better mirror. If we need to be heard, it's perhaps a
certain quality of hearing that we want. We're working together so
that we're getting empathically heard. Maybe it's team work to clear
both peoples mirror.
What we're doing in this part of the empathy circles is mirrored
empathy. What are the qualities of mirrored empathy? How can we
be better mirrors. Conflicts, misunderstandings, etc can cloud the
mirror. It's not just mirroring the words, but the the feel, the tone,
the intentions, etc of the other. I'm standing in front of the mirror,
cleaning and polishing it so that I can see myself reflected in the
other. They are doing the same in me.
They want their process to be very
experiential way of teaching the listener.
The foundation is speaking from the bodily felt sense
Interactive Focusing Steps
Storyteller and listener
The storyteller shares and then comes to a 'resting place'
Double Empathic movement.
Listener trying to get how it was for the speaker
Take a special moment - the listener concentrates on getting the
bodysence of the speaker.
The speaker checking in on themselves. At the same time, the speaker
goes inside of themselves to their felt sense.
what was touched in the listener about what the speaker
Double Empathic movement.
At the end, Post sharing, do a relationship check. Check in the moment. how am I with me and how are you
with me. Ask the person, "how are you with me now?" I've shared about
me, you've shared about you. How do you feel about me now? How do I feel
about me that I've said all this about me? This is very important with the
[how about adding some body movements of the felt sense and having them be
reflected. - what are we trying to do with the reflection. people the fire
together wire together?]
Focusing makes room forempathyin
a way heretofore not explored, both through the experience-by-experiencehealing
Healing listening is bodysense-to-bodysense communication. The empathic moment
is the "golden moment" of the interaction, the moment of concentrated,
deepened empathy during which the entire relationship often shifts.
The model includes arelationship
I call an anomaly in relationships -- the feared and simultaneously desired
checking in with one another to see where you are in the relationship with
each other and with yourself in this new moment after having shared yourself
It is a model of balance. It is non-authoritarian and non-hierarchical."
" relief for the therapist/listener .
. . who is relieved of the ever present feeling in many therapists that they
need to be "perfect listeners."
also known as person-centered psychotherapy, person-centered
counseling, client-centered therapy and Rogerian psychotherapy. PCT is
a form of talk-psychotherapydeveloped by psychologist Carl Rogers...
goal of PCT is to provide patients with an opportunity to develop a sense
of self wherein they can realize how their attitudes, feelings and
behavior are being negatively affected and make an effort to find
their true positive potential In this technique, therapists create a
comfortable, non-judgmental environment by demonstrating
unconditional positive regard toward their patients while using a
non-directive approach. This aids patients in finding their own
solutions to their problems
technique has been criticized by behaviorists for lacking structure
and by psychoanalysts for actually providing a conditional
relationship. it has proven to be an effective and popular
Therapist Empathic understanding:the
therapist experiences an empathic understanding of the client's
internal frame of reference. Accurate empathy on the part of the
therapist helps the client believe the therapist's unconditional
love for them...
and appreciate the client's feeling throughout the therapy session.
"Constructivist listening differs from active listening in that
the listener does not paraphrase or interpret the talker's thoughts or feelings.
Although active listening is often useful in solving relational or
organizational problems, interpretations by the listener usually interfere with
the talker's fully exploring the thought or feeling, expressing emotion, and
developing understanding. If the listener is allowed to interpret, he or she
may, perhaps unwittingly, cut off the expression of feelings or manipulate the
talker into avoiding emotions with which the listener is uncomfortable.
Interpretation may also lead to the talker becoming dependent on the listener
for meaning or approval. Constructivist listening is not passive
"Purpose: To create a safe space to become better at listening and talking in
depth. Constructivist listening dyads
help us as we work through feelings, thoughts, and beliefs that sometimes
produce anger, passivity, undermine confidence, or cause interference in
relationships with students or colleagues.
"The site is primarily about CCI co-counselling in the UK. This
site has information about CCI co-counselling generally and in other
Co-counselling is reciprocal peer counselling:
Reciprocal: co-counsellors take it in equal turns to be
client and counsellor.
Peer: everyone is equal, there are no "experts" trying to
"sort out" other people.
Counselling: it is a bit like other forms of counselling in
that one person listens while the other talks (or "works" in other ways),
but there the similarity ends. It is the person being client who is in
charge of the session and the person being counsellor mainly just gives very
is a reciprocal way of working that takes place between peers. It is based on
an equal exchange of time and skills, with no money changing hands. Neither
party is the expert: instead both have been trained in the same set of skills.
is a grassroots method of
personal change based on reciprocal peer counseling. It uses simple methods.
Time is shared equally and the essential requirement of the person taking
their turn in the role of counselor is to do their best to listen and give
their full attention to the other person. It is not a discussion; the aim is
to support the person in the client role to work through their own issues in a
mainly self-directed way."
"Co-counselling is a method of
personal development through mutual support for persons of all ages and both
sexes including, with suitable modifications, children. It is not for those
who are too emotionally distressed to give attention to a fellow human on a
reciprocal basis. It is a tool for living for those who are already managing
their lives acceptably by conventional standards, but wish significantly to
enhance their sense of personal identity and personal effectiveness. It is
part of a continuing education for living which affirms the peer principle."
see the documenting of the circles a a form of reflection
reflecting out onto a medium.
Reflective listening etiquette
When you get reflected, and the part you feel has been
adequately reflected back to you, you can say "I feel heard." You can
then go on and share more.
When you feel you have said all that you would like to say, and
that you feel satisfied that you have been fully heard, and are ready to
pass on the spotlight to the next person, you can say, "I feel fully heard! "
Reflective Listening we are listening to;
for Total Meaning.
The Arts as Reflection
use the arts somehow to reflect yourself and others
Johan Galtung says empathy is like an actor taking on the role
of someone else. They become that person.
Some mimics can reflect or impersonate someone to an
a painting as a reflection of someone's spirit.
Interview with Rob Kall, he says he mirrors peoples faces when
he is driving to see what they are feeling