“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.
In addition, empathic listening is the key to making deposits in Emotional Bank Accounts, because nothing you do is a deposit unless the other person perceives it as such.
Empathic listening is, in and of itself, a tremendous deposit in the Emotional bank Account. It’s deeply therapeutic and healing because it gives a person “psychological air.”
But now that you have air, it doesn’t motivate you. This is one of the greatest insights in the field of human motivation: Satisfied needs do not motivate. It’s only the unsatisfied need that motivates. Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival—to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated, to be appreciated.
When you listen with empathy to another person, you give that person psychological air. And after that vital need is met, you can then focus on influencing or problem solving.
This need for psychological air impacts communication in every area of life.
Seeking first to understand, diagnosing before you prescribe, is hard. It’s so much easier in the short run to hand someone a pair of glasses that have fit you so well these many years.
But in the long run, it severally depletes both P and PC. You can’t achieve maximum interdependent production from an inaccurate understanding of where other people are coming from. And you can’t have interpersonal PC—high Emotional Bank Accounts—if the people you relate with don’t really feel understood.
Empathic listening is also risky. It takes a great deal of security to go into a deep listening experience because you open yourself up to be influenced. You become vulnerable. It’s a paradox, in as sense, because in order to have influence you have to be influenced. That means you have to really understand.
That’s why Habits 1, 2 and 3 are so foundational. They give you the changeless inner core, the principle center, from which you can handle the more outward vulnerability with peace and strength.”
The other day I had a wonderful conversation with someone who spent more time asking about me, than I could about them. It felt great, especially in this world where I hear an overabundance of “I”, “me” statements. It’s rather discouraging to think there is so much self-centeredness today.
Empathic listening is not easy, but in order to develop more than a superficial level of relationships, learning how to is a significant step toward a meaningful “connection”. Personally, I prefer to get past the blabber/bragging phase of communication, and become more than “fodder” for a commentary, or an audience for the self-serving.
Next Habit 5
Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood
Diagnose Before You Prescribe