Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Emotional Labeling

The next major component of the active listening process is emotional labeling.  Let’s focus on two things, what is it and also why do we do it. Emotional labeling is simply a statement of the emotions heard during a conversation. The first step to doing it effectively is listening for those underlying emotions in what a person is saying. The bottom line is people love to have others understand how they feel. If possible, I want you to never let a feeling go by in a conversation without labeling it. It really conveys that you are listening to what the person is saying and understand how they were feeling. Demonstrating that you understand how a person feels will have a significant impact during the rapport-building phase of conversation and ultimately determine how significant of a connection you can create with this person. People are rarely in a conversation where their emotions or feelings are identified. If it has happened to you, it feels great.  It is the exactly why we see therapist to help with our challenges in life, they listen to us.
The feelings may be unexpressed in the conversation but because you were listening you can pick up on clues in their statements that lead you to those feelings. As an example of what emotional labeling might look like in a conversation that might sound something like this, “I can hear anger in your voice, and it seems like the situation has also hurt you deeply”.  This would be during a very deep conversation with someone but a simpler application in a sales scenario, or a casual conversation might sound something like this, “it sounds like the experience you had with your previous parts supplier left you feeling very frustrated”, or “you sound anxious about the way the conversation with your boss went”, or simple, “you sound sad, how can I help”.  It is important to have a vocabulary to describe many different feelings and many different emotions that you can use during your conversations to make that connection, like tools in a toolbox.

The next question is why we do it. Identifying emotions during a conversation and putting a verbal label in response to what you hear in their voice is one of the most powerful techniques you can use in tactical communication. Labeling emotions and feelings during the conversation, and expressing empathy for those emotions and feelings will lead you directly to the other person saying to themselves, “wow this person really knows how I feel”.  The honest truth is we buy products from people or involve ourselves in relationship with people that we feel understand not only who we are, but also what challenges we face. Being understood is one of the greatest desires we have as people. I have a list of emotions and feelings that you can review to help increase your vocabulary and use as a reference card, just simply e-mail me a request for the list,  Give this a try and let me know how it works for you