Learning the Benefits of Empathic Listening the Hard Way
An element of my daily life is communication, whether verbal or non-verbal. However, my communication style differs depending on who I am talking to, where I am communicating, and the topic of conversation. I am learning that whether I am conversing at work, home or with friends, communication can potentially improve if people learn to be empathic listeners. “Empathic listening is a way of listening and responding to another person that improves mutual understanding and trust” (Salem, 2003, ¶ 1). While working with friends, it is easy to assume that understanding, acceptance, and trust are a given. However, in the workplace these attributes can be overshadowed by a person’s need of individual job recognition and job status. Communication misunderstandings are more likely to occur in such instances where empathic listening is not developed, in particular when working with close friends.
Communication Gone Wrong
A prime example of communication gone wrong happened years ago between five friends I worked with. The six of us were hired into the same department, and even though we varied in ages and personality types, we became instant friends. We spent holidays, birthdays, and vacations together. As co-workers, we worked well together in accomplishing numerous tasks. Two of us had even traveled to Japan together in order to present our winning Quality Circle presentation. As we all become more knowledgeable within our department, we were promoted to jobs such as technicians, training coordinator, and administrative assistant. We each brought our own expertise to our job title and to the group, as a whole. As a result of our expertise and hard work, all six of us were chosen to be part of a “core” group of employees to transfer to a building under construction that would accommodate a larger diameter of product. Production would not start for a few months, but we transferred over early in...