Monday Morning Mojo: The Power of Compassionate Listening

Latest posts by Mike Wade (see all)

At the end of the day, our success in business and the overall quality of our lives starts and stops with how we relate to people. How we interact with others and who we’re being when we interact with them directly affects our life experience as well as our outcomes. Communication that leaves others feeling strong, uplifted, cared about and listened to provides a tremendous edge for those of us that take the big step towards big, powerful lives as entrepreneurs.

That said, typical conversations do not leave others feeling empowered. Most conversations are typically about establishing a point of view, being right, and anticipating a response, spending more time thinking and talking than listening.

“Nature has given us two ears, two eyes, and but one tongue-to the end that we should hear and see more than we speak.” ~ Socrates

A totally different mode of communication is possible, one in which the emphasis is placed on the person we’re talking to and not ourselves. The basic strategy is to “watch the movie” of the person you’re talking to.

Here are the basic components:

  1. Actively listen to the point where you could repeat back to them what they just said.
  2. Listen for what is important to them and what they care about.
  3. Disregard any judgments, preconceived notions and rebuttals about what they’re saying.
  4. Create a “blank space” for the communication. Fill it with care and love.

You will notice that the people you communicate with in this manner are left feeling energized/happier, loved, wanting to help you, cooperate with you and, yes, even do business with you!

“The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.”  ~ Henry David Thoreau

This kind of listening has transformed the most important relationships in my life, including my relationship with my parents. Previously, my typical way of being with my dad was partially present and judgmental. I spent most of our conversations in my own thoughts and not really listening for what was important to him and what he cared about. He was often noticeably flat around me. I followed the formula above, clearing my preconceived notions, judgments and agendas and really listened to and cared about what my dad was saying and what was important to him. I can tell you that the energy that was created was not short of miraculous. My dad laughed more, talked more, joked more and was clearly happier as a result. Love filled the space.  That, of course, made me happier, so we both won. Without exaggeration, my dad looked 5 years younger after my visit was over with him on that particular trip. With our relationship completely transformed, maintaining this new way of communication has been easy.

I invite to begin transitioning to compassionate listening by trying out the following this week:

Notice how you listen in your conversations.

The first step to changing how you communicate is to notice how you currently communicate. How well are you listening? Are you already thinking of what you’re going to say next before the person you’re communicating with has finished speaking? Could you repeat back what you just heard? You will probably notice that you’re thinking more than listening. Don’t judge yourself.

Try out compassionate listening with someone you don’t know well.

When you have a history with someone, listening at this level can be challenging at first. Try this out with your coffee shop barista, your mail man/woman, or store clerk. With little history, you won’t have as much of a need to add something to the conversation. Ask them how their day is going, how they like working there, what’s new and exciting in their lives and then really listen for their answer. Follow the formula above. You’ll notice that the person you’re LISTENING to will light up. Keep practicing. Build your “compassionate listening” muscle. You’ll love the way you feel!

Try out compassionate listening with your customers.

Most business people feel the need to talk more than they listen, to prove that they have “the right stuff”. Often times, the customer is left feeling unheard. Trust in the process. Leave your customer feeling empowered. Of course, spend time telling the customer how you will help them, but keep the focus on listening to what really matters to them. Listen A LOT more than you talk.

Try out compassionate listening with your loved ones.

When you see the transformational effects of this kind of listening with those you love, you won’t want to communicate any other way.  Your loved ones will light up and so will you!  Share this kind of listening with them. Teach them.  They’ll use it on you!

Please share your experiences here on this blog.  Sharing helps us all!

Have a compassion-filled week, everyone!

With love,


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