Listening is not about understanding the other, but about making the other feel understood

Being silent has an impact for the good or for the worse. Dave Ulrich made clear in his HR masterclass in Brussels that the loudest feedback is silence. Saying nothing when you ought to speak is approving the other’s bad behavior.

But if being silent means that you are listening, nothing but good will happen. Professor Avraham Natan Kluger (2013) from The Hebrew University showed through a small meta-analysis how important the skill of listening is for leaders (r = .62). This shouldn’t be too surprising as listening correlates highly with psychological safety (r =.67) and trust (r= . 62), two key elements trough which authentic leaders get their results done.

Dave Ulrich also mentioned that some bright people think they listen well, because once they’ve heard about 20% of the conversation, they tend to get the other person’s message, and they move on. But listening is not about understanding what the other says, but about making the other feel understood.

The good news: sensitive, emphatic, and non-judgmental listening is a skill, and can be developed (Kluger, 2013).

Any comments?


Kluger, A.N. (2013).  Imagine the future world where supervisors are listening. Paper presented on the 2013 European Congress of Work and Organizational Psychology, Münster, May, 2013.


About Jesse Segers

Academic Director of The Future Leadership Initiative
This entry was posted in 1. Connection & benevolence, 5. Awareness & empowerment, Academic insights & evidence, English and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Listening is not about understanding the other, but about making the other feel understood

  1. Erik Vande Weijer says:

    cfr marshall rosenberg, auteur van geweldloze communicatie : toegepast op luisteren is het de -onderliggende-behoefte van de ander erkennen. Inzicht is de eerste stap om je daarin te bekwamen, je vindt ook veel -vermakelijk-materiaal op youtube

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