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The Five-Step Process to Being Empathetic

Stephen Covey’s Empathetic Listening strategy is like the rain falling on grass, it is the key element to growth.

As a Team Leader you will have members asking for your assistance and sometimes there is an easy ‘go to’ answer, but other times there is more to the situation than meets the eye.

The speaker’s problem requires more thought and time. If you are going to allocate the time to listen to the situation, then a Courageous leader will listen to understand rather than listen to respond. They are prepared for both, speaker and listener to grow.

Empathetic Listening is very much about understanding the speaker’s insights, so the response is not about you, but about them. When the speaker feels heard, the listener feels connected.

PACEF is the five-step process to being an Empathetic Listener:


Present– Be in the moment with the speaker. Remove your distractions and get involved with theirs. Settle in and be patient.

Acknowledging– Your verbal and nonverbal cues are key to keeping the speaker settled and calm allowing them to continue without distraction.

Curious– Everyone loves a question asked about their favourite topic which happens to be the subject of the listening.

“To be interesting, be interested.” Ask questions for understanding.

Engaging– This is the part where the listener clarifies their understanding of the speaker’s message. “What I heard was ...” Boom! I heard you and I understand you.

Feedback– The listener’s response after understanding will be a in a feedback format, either singularly or a combination – Solution, Support or Space

Does the speaker want a solution?

Do they require support?

Do they need space to reflect on what they have said?

Empathetic Listening is not just for leaders, it is a skill that we can all employ every time a conversation is happening.

Test yourself in the next verbal interaction – BE PACEF and see the difference it makes to the subject material.

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