In the previous lesson, we started with caselet and learnt about the first aspect of empathetic listening. Let’s continue with the caselet to learn and understand about two more aspects of empathetic listening.
Take this lesson to learn more and don’t forget to take the accompanying quiz at the end of the lesson.
This lesson is in video format.
We recognise that some participants prefer reading to listening. If you are one of them, then you can access a transcript of the lesson by clicking on the View Transcript button below the video.
Angel: Now, Roshan, watch this next part very carefully…
Customer: It’s very difficult getting in touch with you. I…
Roshan: But my number is always on during work hours. And I respond to all missed calls and messages on priority. When did you try calling me?
(Roshan picks up his phone to check missed calls, and gets involved with something else entirely)
Customer: (clears his throat to gain Roshan’s attention) I didn’t. That’s the point. I can’t. Your working hours coincide with mine. I generally work pretty late, so I can’t call you after work either. As for the weekends,…
(Roshan puts down his phone and leans back, away from the customer, now looking at his laptop after a microsecond look at the customer)
Roshan: Huh? Oh…Yes, Sir. We don’t work weekends. Company policy. (looks at customer) Have you tried contacting me on email?
Customer: (sighs) I can’t access personal emails during work hours.
Roshan: Why don’t you use your official email ID then?
Customer: Official email Ids are monitored, Roshan. I don’t want my financial dealings to be exposed to anyone.
Roshan: It’s no big deal, Sir. Lots of clients correspond with us on official IDs…(looks into his laptop screen again)
Customer (starting to get a little annoyed): I don’t care. I don’t want to correspond with you using my official email
Roshan: Okay. No need to get upset, Sir. Send me an email from your personal ID after work hours? I’ll respond to you the next day.
Customer (sighing): Which means a normal transaction which should take a matter of minutes, will be stretched into days. You see, Roshan, it’s why I said it’s very difficult to get in touch with you.
Angel: Pause! What was wrong there?
Roshan: You mean with me? I can’t really say. I responded to the customer’s complaint as best as I could.
Angel: Really? Did you notice the part there where the customer got a little annoyed with you?
Roshan: Yes, I did this time, but I have to admit, I didn’t catch it the first time.
Angel: Okay, why do you think the customer got annoyed?
Roshan: I kept interrupting him, I guess. And I appeared distracted with my laptop and phone.
Angel: You’re right about appearing distracted. Why did you feel the need to interrupt though? Why didn’t you just let him go on?
Roshan: I wanted to share my point of view, troubleshoot the problem and share my thoughts right then. At the start, I was very unsure what this customer wanted, but now I was confident it wasn’t my fault. So, I jumped right in even though the customer had not completed what he was saying.
Angel: And in doing so…
Roshan: I missed out on key information. I didn’t see them getting annoyed. And I doubt that the point of that conversation was me being unavailable. If the customer came to the branch to see me face to face, he probably had something more important on his mind…
Angel: You’re catching on fast. So, what will you do the next time.
Roshan: I think I’ll treat the first few minutes as precious. The best thing to do is set aside all distractions like phones and computers. After the conversation starts, I’ll just listen. I’ll say nothing, even if the customer is complaining. I’ll offer verbal nods where needed, like ‘um-hmm’, or ‘I see. Please continue’. And I’ll watch their expressions for cues on what they’re feeling.
Angel: That’s good. Quick question, though: when should you jump in and say what you want to?
Roshan: When the customer has finished speaking, of course.
Angel: And how will you know when they’ve finished speaking?
Roshan: ….(Blank stare)
Angel: (Smiles) Watch this:
1. The customer sighs, followed by silence, and then looks at Roshan
2. The customer asks Roshan, “What do you think”
Angel: When people are ready to listen to you, they’ll tell you one way or another.
Roshan: That makes sense. I’ll look for these cues that the speaker has finished expressing themselves.
Angel: Excellent! With this out of the way, we come to the next crucial bit. The grey area between listening and actively responding.