Empathic Communication

Jun 1, 2020 | Communication, Leadership, Sport

 

Communication is possible without empathy, but a non-empathic communicator will never be as effective as they could be. Empathic communication is characterised by listening, compassion, concern, and support. Such efforts are noticed and appreciated. They have a positive influence on the other’s emotional state. The good feeling is contagious and an example has been set.

Communication is vital in leadership in particular. Good leaders understand how information will be received and can accurately predict reactions. Using empathy insists that communication is a dynamic process with ongoing feedback from the person with whom one is empathising. The leader needs to retain curiosity to gain deeper understanding that maintains knowledge of the other and moulds future communication.

Empathic Communication

An empathic leader will communicate using choices rather than demands and pursue goals without compromising others. They will also attend to non-verbal methods of communication, like: eye contact, facial expressions, consolation behaviours like comforting touch or embrace, mirroring (including body shape/posture and semiautomatic actions like yawning) and using reassuring words or sounds. They value: the opinions of others and the process of coming to a decision (not just the decision itself). This approach boosts morale and generally leads to better decision making, which builds a reputation of competence and trust.

Carlo Ancelotti is one of the most successful leaders in European football, winning trophies in different countries. Here are his thoughts on listening:

Carlo Ancelotti Head Coach Empathic Communication

Carlo Ancelotti

“Ideas can come from anywhere, so you should always listen to people…Listening is an often-overlooked skill. Listening to what other people have to say – my staff, players, general director and those outside the game – and absorbing it, acting upon it or opening up a dialogue about it is something I very much believe is essential for those who wish to lead… It is very important for me to listen to the players. When preparing for some games, you can give an idea to a player and you have to listen to what they think about it.”

Carlo Ancelotti

“Ideas can come from anywhere, so you should always listen to people…Listening is an often-overlooked skill. Listening to what other people have to say – my staff, players, general director and those outside the game – and absorbing it, acting upon it or opening up a dialogue about it is something I very much believe is essential for those who wish to lead… It is very important for me to listen to the players. When preparing for some games, you can give an idea to a player and you have to listen to what they think about it.”

Carlo Ancelotti Head Coach Empathic Communication

As well as failing to listen, poor communication can be due to: a lack of knowledge of the other, lack of clarity, stubborn preconceived ideas, jumping to conclusions, or not understanding another’s needs. Poor communication has a negative impact on relationships. Empathic communication brings people closer together. This can improve cohesion in a team and alignment within an organisation.

There are some great examples of empathic communication in the biographies of great leaders. The quote above was taken from Carlo Ancelotti’s Quiet Leadership, which I wholeheartedly recommend.

Peter Sear

Founder

Carlo Ancelotti Quiet Leadership Empathic Minds Organisation

Quiet Leadership by Carlo Ancelotti

Click here to buy from amazon.co.uk

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