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A Simple Process to Become a Better Listener and Increase Employee Engagement

Updated: Dec 17, 2022


As a society, we are allergic to silence. It’s time to change that. Shivani Shah (she/her) and Tzviya (Tia) Katz (she/her) of HU-X met with Associate Professor Nate Pettit of NYU Stern School of Business to discuss the power of listening.

According to Professor Pettit, people have a remarkable ability to solve their own problems if someone is willing to listen to them. Instead of immediately jumping into finding a solution for an individual who comes to you with a problem, take a step back and allow them the time to reflect, process, explore, and discover potential solutions within themselves. Essentially, as Carl Rogers said "Being listened to... makes it possible for persons to listen more accurately to themselves."

Listening is a very powerful tool and is positively correlated with employee engagement and job performance (for more on this, look into the fascinating work of Prof. Avi Kluger of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem). However, many people find it difficult to actually do it. Professor Pettit offers the following process as you strengthen your "listening muscle:"

⑴ Set a timer for three minutes and use this time only to listen. With practice, see if you can gradually increase this interval.

⑵ Do not provide a response until you have gone through two rounds of saying one of the below:

﹡ Take your time.

﹡ Say more.

﹡ Go on.

This last step is important. Professor Pettit famously shares this saying with his class: "the truth comes after the pause." When an individual shares what is on their mind, allow them to reach a pause. Though the pause is where you would typically assume they have nothing more to say, resist the urge to add value (e.g., sharing your opinion, advice, or a story of a similar situation from your past) and instead prompt them to continue. This is when the deeper meaning of the problem can be revealed and also, potentially, even the solved.


Shivani Shah

Human Factors Researcher

Tia Katz




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