Empathetic listening. Few people have the ability to truly empathize, and listen with intention. I don’t know about you, but when something comes easy, we tend to 1) think everyone else can do it too, and 2) it’s no big deal.
As introverts, we have this near-magic ability to be quiet and centered, allowing us to hear others. Sometimes it’s a curse, to be honest! But when someone is troubled and needs to talk, you can be very influential in a positive way. You’re a natural-born listener!
Listening – not just the words, but understanding what is not said – helps you to know what others need. Magic! How do you know what to say and do? You do realize how valuable a leadership skill this is? If you’re a leader of some kind, you just know what to do; you have a built-in feedback machine. People are much more likely to cooperate when they feel they’ve been heard. We often pass ourselves by when leadership opportunities open up, but remember how influential you can be!
Good listening skills and validation lead to trust. It’s a super power – once trust and validation are established, others will take your words to heart. Your listening skills show your empathy. Listening intently lets the other person feel safe. You probably have an accurate “radar” on people; you see and understand things in others that they don’t express verbally. Sometimes this scares people, makes them feel exposed and vulnerable. Just something to be aware of if you sense someone “shutting down,” or even becoming defensive.
Introverts generally have a high degree of conscience. You mean what you say, you do what you promise. Your credibility with others is highly influential and powerful. You can invoke change using these subtle yet powerful tools. Be aware that if not handled with respect and awareness, these tools can be quite destructive when used with the wrong intentions – either in personal relationships or the world in general.
Paradoxically, silence is another introvert superpower. Ever notice how people share things with you simply because you’re not talking? But try to not fall into the trap of avoiding conflict at all costs. I am guilty of it, for sure! Listening with empathy is a wonderful thing, very beneficial and healing. Too much empathy though might simply be a way to avoid conflict. Are you like me, hate conflict? Surprisingly, conflict isn’t necessarily bad. It can help us spur people towards beneficial changes. It can shake them out of their comfort zone – and ourselves as well. Seeds of ideas are planted in conflict and discomfort. Holding back from challenging others or expressing your point of view deprives them of your valuable contribution to the situation. Share your thoughts, ideas, and vision. We all benefit! Empathy isn’t “feeling sorry” for people, as in sympathy. Empathy is getting inside someone’s skin, understanding their situation, and having clarity to offer guidance, or a solution.
Next week, we’ll explore a 4th introvert superpower!