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© Article translated from the book “Ascolto attivo ed empatia. I segreti di una comunicazione efficace“. copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in any language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact Dr. Daniele Trevisani.

Given the complexity and variety of cases and situations, it is normal to think that, when we ask a question or listen to someone, our mind stays open to whatever information comes in. 

Actually, we can make the following prevalent mistakes.  

 

We just listen to confirm that we are right. Issues of cognitive dissonance in us and in the client 

I called this type of listening “confirmatory listening“, meaning that it only seeks confirmation of being right: the act of listening becomes only a formality before deciding that, just as we thought, we were quite right. 

This type of listening discards much of the incoming information, and, above all, it does not capture those dubious signals that people send out through micro expressions, body gestures and facial expressions that can communicate disapproval, disgust, or surprise. 

It is well known that people carefully avoid exposing themselves to information sources that can disturb their cognitive balances, leading to cognitive dissonances. 

The concept of Cognitive Dissonance was introduced by Leon Festinger and mainly used in social psychology to describe a particular mental processing, where one’s own beliefs, notions and opinions related to a certain topic are in contrast with each other. 

Sometimes we don’t want to know, or we literally prefer not to know something that would alter what we think is true and right. 

Listening to people and their cognitive dissonances is a fundamental exercise. 

Repeating in front of a client a dissonance exactly as it emerged opens the doors to a deep change: e.g., “if I understand correctly, you said that X …, but now you say that Y …“, where X and Y are two conflicting statements made by the same person, who does not realize the existing conflict. 

Of course, the same goes for us. When we discover a cognitive dissonance in us, we must examine it, asking for professional support, like coaching, counselling or therapy, because “holding in the dissonances” means “holding in mental confusion and pain”. 

© Article translated from the book “Ascolto attivo ed empatia. I segreti di una comunicazione efficace“. copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in any language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact Dr. Daniele Trevisani.