How to Listen and Understand. Make relationships better.

Don’t Google it. Please.


So basically I am doing this project and tomorrow is my final review. My project mate is not cooperating with me. He is not listening to me. I don’t know what am I supposed to do. I told him to collect the report format two days ago, two times but he still won’t listen and says that he forgot. I am all too frustrated. That’s why I am not in a good mood today.

“So, where should I go for my Masters?” said my friend in response to all of what I said above.

I am always making a point in all my posts and today I want to get your attention towards the fact that he wasn’t listening or he didn’t care. That means he was listening but not emphatically. He wasn’t paying complete attention to what I was saying. Instead, he was waiting for me to finish so that he could speak. In his mind, when I was speaking, was the reply revolving that had to come out of his mouth.

That brings us to the topic of emphatic listening…

Emphatic Listening

There are four ways of ‘listening’ to a person:

  1. Ignoring: That means you are completely ignoring the other person and not listening to even a word he/she is saying. That means you don’t respect the other person, the relationship, their point of view. You may want something from that person or out of the relationship that benefits you. But once the other person sees through the duplicity there is nothing in this world that will fix that.
  2. Pretending: We may say ‘Yeah’, ‘Right’, ‘Okay’ and other simple words just to pretend that we are listening to the person and hearing whatever he/she is blabbering. Pretending may also get you in trouble unless you don’t care about the relationship with the person. What if he/she asks you a question back? What if they ask your suggestion on what they said? And so on…
  3. Selective listening: We may practise selective listening, that means we hear only parts of the conversation. We normally do this when we are listening to a school kid talking to us. We only hear what is important like his/her results, the bullying, the bad thing done. But again this is not completely understanding and respecting the other person.
  4. Attentive listening: Attentive listening is paying attention to each word the other person is saying. You may listen to each and every word the other person is saying but are you listening with empathy to reply with the intention of not to judge, probe, evaluate, and interpret?

Only very few reach the fifth level of listening, The Emphatic Listening.

Emphatic listening is listening to understand. TO understand first and then to be understood. You enter their world, you see the situation from their frame of reference. You empathise with their words and you understand them first before you say anything to make yourself understood.

What do I need for emphatic listening?

Ans: Character.

To understand someone you need to be character based and not personality based. You have to sincerely listen to them, each and every word of it. Understand it and then reply with an emphatic and appropriate answer. When you build your character you build that relationship between you and them. You know the person sitting opposite to you. That no matter what I have to say he/she will listen to me.

Unless and until your private performance resonates with your public performance you will not be able to build that character. Because character is not just what comes out of your mouth, it’s is you. It’s how you understand a situation, it is how you react when you are insulted when it is not your fault, it is how you treat people lower than you, it is how you walk and talk, it is how you eat, it is how you prioritise relationships.

Should I practise it only when there is a problem?


To avoid any such confrontation always practise emphatic listening. Why would you want to face a problem when you can avoid that by listening emphatically to your children, spouse, parents, friends, etc.? If you practise emphatic listening in your daily life you will build up on that relationship and believe me you will be surprised to see what people are willing to share once they trust you and your listening skills.

And btw if you have built that integrity, that maturity, that character, this skill of emphatic listening will come to you naturally. You don’t have to find tips and tricks on Google on how to listen to people’s problems and what not.

Don’t do this!

Bringing it all together…

Listen to me carefully:

  • Build a character. Not a personality.
  • Listen emphatically. Level 5.
  • Make sure that your private self and public self resonate with each other.
  • Ask open-ended questions to understand them better.
  • Don’t multi-task. Either listen or don’t. Period.
  • It is about Win/Win. It’s not a matter of Win and Lose.
  • Smile. Can you please? 😊

Thank you for reading guys. Have a nice day. Happy Life. Love yourself. Keep smiling. It’s contagious. 😊


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