If an employee comes to you with a problem, do you typically say: "Don't worry about it.." or "you'll be fine.."?
Our instant reaction is often to offer sympathy. But this may prevent them from opening up to you. They may feel foolish by your reaction, or quietly angry that you don't seem to understand how important this problem is to them.
Empathy blockers can be quite subtle, but once you are aware of them, and start using more appropriate responses, you may be surprised at how much better the conversation turns out.
To improve your listening skills, practice "Active Listening" which involves reflecting back the words and the emotion expressed by the other person.
Use statements such as "You sound very.." "It seems like you are.." "So what you are saying is.." or simply "I hear you.."
And avoid these Empathy Blockers:
"Look, just get on with it.."
"This is what you should do.."
"You are always complaining.."
"You are worrying over nothing.."
"You will be fine.."
"Wait until you hear what happened to me.."
"You didn't say that, did you?!"
"I am really surprised you did that.."
"You stupid fool..!"
Active listening is a skill that gets better with practice. At first it may feel uncomfortable, so try it out when the situation is not too tense or emotional. If you find it difficult to get people to "open up", you will be amazed at the difference once you use this skill.
To learn more about the importance of communication, Click Here.
To hear answers to the the common questions managers have on the topic, download the Ways to Communicate Effectively Audio Guide.
To examine the methods of communication available and how they might be used in your workplace, click on Effective Workplace Communication.
For inter personal communication skills, click on Basic Communication Skills..
..and to find out more about this topic, click on How to Read Body Language.
Do you have a specific communication question that you would like answered? Click Here.
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