Articles · · 2 min read

Active listening is a powerful way to grow your influence–and it's learnable

Learn a dialogue script to practice active listening with your colleagues to ask for small behavior changes.

Generally speaking, Empathy Maps are helpful in understanding additional perspectives, but for many of us, it isn't easy to be empathetic at the moment, especially when we disagree with someone.

We can't grab our post-its, and take a bunch of time to process and think, yet we know that demonstrating empathy is essential to collaboration and progress. To show empathy while we're in discussion with a partner, we need more than just post-its.

The Imago Relationship Theory provides one approach to practice transforming a conflict into an opportunity through a dialogue script.

The Imago Dialogue Script

The Imago Dialogue Script is an active exchange between a Sender (the speaking partner) and a Receiver (the listening partner). And, just to be clear, the theory originates and is primarily for couples in relationships. I'm going to assume you're not in a romantic relationship with your colleague. Still, like any theory, there are some convenient and applicable ways to reuse what works in similar situations.

One of these ways is through a dialogue script. As a professional, you might be trying to learn how to communicate better under stress rather than get heated, quiet, or argue and, consequently, make little progress. One of the primary goals of starting with a script is it teaches us to SLOW DOWN in a very practical way.

Here's the step-by-step script:

  1. Mirror what you've heard: Listen to your partner without distorting their thoughts and feelings. Respond with phrases like “What I’m hearing you say…” or "Let me see if I got you…"
  2. Validate your colleague: Validate and understand your partner’s truth. Respond with phrases like “That makes sense to me because… I've heard you say this before... this is one of your main objectives this year... I can see how it's relevant for our team.”
  3. Demonstrate empathy: Empathize with their expressed feelings. Respond with phrases like “I imagine you’re feeling…”
  4. Ask for a small behavior change: Once you've completed steps 1-3, you can ask a small behavior change request to meet their needs. Respond with phrases like “This is really helpful. What would help me help you is…”

REMEMBER: Your colleague does not have to accept your change request. Why? Because everyone has the fundamental human right to disagree. But, if this happens, I want you to know that you've done the hard work to ensure your colleague is seen and heard. You've done an excellent job communicating.

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