Chapter 5: Listening and Empathy

Listening is a primary means through which we learn new information. The process of listening can help us meet instrumental needs as we learn things that help us complete specific tasks at work or school and get things done in general. Listening to our relational partners provides support, which is an integral part of relational maintenance and helps us meet our relational needs. Listening to what others say about us helps us develop an accurate self-concept, which can help us more strategically communicate our identity needs to project to others our desired self. Overall, improving our listening skills can help us be better students, better relational partners, and more successful professionals. Unless you plan on taking more communication courses in the future, this chapter may be the only instruction you receive on the basics of listening versus hearing, listening styles, listening difficulties, listening stages, and listening empathetically and critically.

Together, listening and empathy can help us build stronger relationships with others by allowing us to truly understand and connect with others on a deeper level. By listening to someone with empathy, we can create a safe space for them to express their thoughts and feelings, which can lead to increased trust, understanding, and mutual respect. Additionally, listening with empathy can also help us gain new insights and perspectives, which can be valuable in both personal and professional contexts. In this chapter, we will discuss in more detail the difference between listening and hearing, the stages of listening, barriers to effective listening, providing constructive feedback and conclude with some guidance on improving listening competence.


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Professional Communication Skills for Health Studies Copyright © 2023 by Chute, A., Johnston, S., & Pawliuk, B. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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