“It is the obvious which is so difficult to see most of the time.

People say ‘It’s as plain as the nose on your face.’

But how much of the nose on your face can you see,

unless someone holds a mirror up to you?”

― Isaac Asimov, I, Robot


The key to successful coaching is also the secret to successful communication in relationships: empathetic listening.  Empathetic listening means that you hear the other person without judgment and with the intention of seeing the world as he/she sees it.


Empathetic listening is a proactive process – like pretending to become another person for a short time.  It takes focused imagination and practice to broaden you viewpoint before judging.  Only when you can understand the actions of others, when you let yourself feel their motives within you, can you truly see their perspective.


Here are 5 simple steps.


  1. Provide the speaker with your undivided attention. Clock-watching, cellphone glancing or multi-tasking will sabotage your efforts.


  1. Elicit openness by being non-judgmental. During this process, the speaker’s issues are the most important. Resist diminishing or trivializing anything the speaker says. You don’t have to agree, only identify with the speaker’s situation.


  1. Pay attention and observe the speaker, particularly the emotions behind the words. If the speaker is angry, fearful, resentful or frustrated, respond to the emotion as well as the words.


  1. Be Quiet and do not interrupt. You don’t have to give an immediate reply to what has been said. The magic of communication often happen in the gaps between the words.  Here, silence is golden.  By allowing some silence, the speaker may even offer a solution.


  1. Assure the speaker of your understanding and let him or her know that he or she is important. When necessary, restate what you perceive the speaker has said. Ask clarifying questions.


Following these 5 steps and you will take your communication skills to a whole new level.  You will have the tools to handle situational problems or conflicts.