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Culture of Empathy Builder:  Stephen Covey 

 Stephen Covey

 "Stephen Richards Covey (October 24, 1932 – July 16, 2012) was an American educator, author, businessman, and keynote speaker. His most popular book was The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.


His other books include First Things First, Principle-Centered Leadership, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families, The 8th Habit, and The Leader In Me — How Schools and Parents Around the World Are Inspiring Greatness, One Child at a Time. He was a professor at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University at the time of his death".



7 Habits Empathic Listening
How to do empathic listening and an example.





Using Empathic Listening to Collaborate - Stephen R. Covey.

"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 manipulate.

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 feel..

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....


"Empathic listening takes time, but it doesn't take anywhere near as much time as it takes to back up and correct misunderstandings when you're already miles down the road; to redo; to live with unexpressed and unsolved problems; to deal with the results of not giving people psychological air."

Empathic listening is so powerful because it gives you accurate data to work with. Instead of projecting your own autobiography and assuming thoughts, feelings, motives and interpretation, you're dealing with the reality inside another person's head and heart. You're listening to understand. You're focused on receiving the deep communication of another human soul."


"The more authentic you become, the more genuine in your expression, particularly regarding personal experiences and even self-doubts, the more people can relate to your expression and the safer it makes them feel to express themselves. That expression, in turn, feeds on the other person's spirit, and genuine creative empathy takes place, producing new insights and learnings and a sense of excitement and adventure that keeps the process going." Stephen Covey




"When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.”

"Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. They're either speaking or preparing to speak. They're filtering everything through their own paradigms, reading their autobiography into other people's lives."  Stephen Covey

"Seek to understand rather than be understood".  Stephen Covey

"Empathy takes time, and efficiency is for things, not people." Stephen Covey

"When you listen with empathy to another person, you give that person psychological air"  Stephen Covey 

The more deeply you understand other people, the more you will appreciate them, the more reverent you will feel about them. To touch the soul of another human being is to walk on holy ground. Stephen R. Covey

I may be ineffective in my interactions with my work associates,
my spouse, or my children because I constantly tell them what I think,
but I never really listen to them. Unless I search out correct principles
of human interaction, I may not even know I need to listen. Even if I
do know that in order to interact effectively with others I really need
to listen to them, I may not have the skill. I may not know how
to really listen deeply to another human being. But knowing I need
to listen and knowing how to listen is not enough. Unless I want
to listen, unless I have the desire, it won't be a habit in my life.
Stephen R. Covey




AMAZING technique to improve Empathic Listening - Dr.Stephen R. Covey - Indian Talking Stick

Outline:  Speaking on the stage

  • Indian Talking Stick

  • most powerful technique

  • hidden agendas in meetings

  • heal divisions in families

  • The person has the talking stick, can talk until feel fully heard

  • listen with empathy until understood, then pass it on to the next person

  • It transforms defensive negative energy into creative transforming energy

  • When you listen to someone deeply is is so affirming, therapeutic, healing, they can not fight you,

  • try it out, you've got the talking stick and no-one can talk until you feel understood

  • in business meetings us this - restate the other persons point to their satisfaction.


  • [Use this clip]



Habit 5 Part D Understand Then be Understood Empathic Listening I

Outline: Workshop format

  • About empathy - one of many forms of communication

    • reflect sincerely and deeply

  • Other approaches

    • questions - efficient way of getting information's

    • start with empathy instead of autobiography

  • Be like a Translator

    • listening and translation of the story and feeling back to the speaker

    • not trying to take control or manipulate toward some worthy end.

  • Sympathy ver. empathize

  • For empathy

    • Use simple short reflections

    • Get at the feeling

    • If you're not sure if you understand the content - restate it.

  • Use Empathic Communication when

    • 1. you're not sure you understand

    • 2. you're not sure the other feels understood

    • 3. when the issue is charged with emotion

  • Role playing with some Non Empathic Sample Responses

    • Questioning

    • Me too - autobiography

    • Advice - don't get discouraged 

    • Sympathy - poor you,

    • Agreeing 

    • Disagreeing

  • Go to empathy with the person has a lot of emotion and needs to be understood

  • Synergistically creating a new thing


  • [Use this clip]



Habit 5 Part E Understand Then be Understood Empathic Listening II


Outline: Habit 5

  • 5 Phases of learning empathic Responses

    • 1. Mimicking

    • 2. Rephrasing - their words and meaning in new words

    • 3. Reflect Feeling

    • 4. Rephrasing content and reflect feeling

    • 5. Say nothing - when they feel understood

  • Tells story of a  real-estate agent using empathy

    • importance of the relationship


  • [Use this clip]


Empathic Listening-  Video 1


  • Acting: the boss that doesn't empathize (part 1)

  • Has trouble with an coworker

    • Nobody is listening

Empathic Listening - Video 2


  • Acting: the boss that doesn't empathize (part 1)

  • he starts listening and using reflective listening

Empathic Listening - Video 3

Outline: Habit 5 - Seek first to Understand then to be Understood

  • in all professions - understanding proceeds action and judgment

  • everyone wants be understood

  • people come in with the intention to reply, influence, control, own ends, but not with the intent to understand


Empathic Listening - Video 4


  • optometrist tries to understand first then prescribes

  • giving advice - putting the lenses on others

Empathic Listening- Video 6

Outline: Scenarios in a Restaurant part 1


  • most people do not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply

  • Various Scenarios of not listening


Empathic Listening- Video 7


Outline: Scenarios in a Restaurant part 2 - Comments

  • To listen empathically is to whole essence of communication

  • in the Scenarios no one is listening

  • iceberg metaphor  - technique is the tip but 90 is what is the motive


  • Problem with Listening Courses that focus on Active Listening - manipulative motives

    • just mimick back

    • pretending to listen

    • mirror body language

  • need sincere motives

    • really want to understand.

  • learn to work out of another persons frame of reference and not just our own


Empathic Listening- Video 8

Outline: Scenarios in a Restaurant part 3 - Comments

  • The essence of communications is to work within the frame of reference of the other person

  • transcend your own frame of reference

  • how?

    • be a faithful translator

    • restate it

  • best technique if used with deep sincerity

    • agree, up-front. that no one can make their point until thy restate the other person's point to his of her satisfaction

    • especially if there is disagreement

  • Example scenario: Dick and Mary

    • attempt 1

    • attempt 2

    • attempt 3

    • attempt 4

  • Almost all problems in the field of communications are not disagreements at all; they're misunderstandings


Empathic Listening- Video 9

Outline: Scenarios in a Restaurant part 4 - Comments

  • Breakdowns in communications

  • Always understand first

  • Always diagnose before prescribing

  • always sell solutions not products