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The heart of empathy: the art of listening

Traditional schooling emphasizes three key communication skills: reading, writing, and speaking. We seem to have left out the fourth equally crucial skill: listening.

Listening is not a passive activity or a mere synonym for "hearing." The Toastmasters organization has been around for 100 years for good reason. Learning to organize thoughts and speak well is an important skill. It's a shame there's no equivalent for listening.

The ability to help people feel heard/seen is a life-changing, possibly life-saving skill. Great listening is the foundation of empathy. When people feel seen and heard it builds trust. One definition of "trust" is to feel safe enough to reveal your vulnerabilities to me, knowing that I won't exploit them.

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