Empathy and Listening

… a core concept in Communication Skills and Atlas 109

Concept description

Gary Orren identifies empathy and listening as members of the ethos (characteristics of the messenger) cluster of persuasion principles.

Psychology Today defines empathy as the experience of understanding another person’s condition from their perspective – you place yourself in their shoes and feel what they are feeling.

Orren provides 6 tips on listening:

  1. Suspend judgment.
  2. Paraphrase your understanding of speaker’s words.
  3. Ask questions for clarification (with genuine intent to learn).
  4. Acknowledge the speaker’s concerns, strengths, feelings, efforts.
  5. Be an active listener. Avoid rehearsing your next response while “listening.” People can usually tell when someone is listening with their full attention.
  6. Good body language (e.g., eye contact, empathetic noises, nods).

Amy Gallo, 2015, How to Make Sure You’re Heard in a Difficult Conversation, Harvard Business Review, November 2015, https://hbr.org/2015/11/how-to-make-sure-youre-heard-in-a-difficult-conversation, accessed 1 February 2016.

MindTools, Empathy at Work – Developing Skills to Understand Other People, at https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/EmpathyatWork.htm, accessed 23 January 2016.

Jessica Stillman, 3 Habits That Will Increase Your Empathy, at http://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/3-habits-that-will-increase-your-empathy.html, accessed 23 January 2016.

Julian Treasure: How to speak so that people want to listen, TED Talk published on 27 June 2014, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIho2S0ZahI, accessed 21 January 2016.

Boundless.com, Rules to Follow When Listening, at https://www.boundless.com/communications/textbooks/boundless-communications-textbook/public-speaking-ethics-2/significance-of-ethics-in-public-speaking-23/rules-to-follow-when-listening-111-7088/, accessed 23 January 2016.

Listening Skills from SkillsYouNeed, at http://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/listening-skills.html, accessed 21 January 2016.

Active Listening from MindToods at https://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/ActiveListening.htm, accessed 21 January 2016.


Psychology Today at https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/empathy, accessed 20 January 2016 and Gary Orren, PowerPoint presentation in 2005 to the Mortgage Bankers Association, Persuasion: The Science and Art of Effective Communication, accessed 17 January 2016 and “Cialdini’s Principles of Persuasion.”

Normed topic and synthetic course with which the concept is primarily associated

This concept is primarily associated with the core normed topic Practices of Persuasion and is included in the synthetic course outline Atlas109 Leadership and Communication Skills.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 12 February 2016.

Image: Listening to Understand, at https://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/social-media-monitoring/24182/, accessed 20 January 2016.