Sincere, active listening can have a powerful impact on others. It can create a connection and allow for better communication. And in extreme circumstances, that communication can help resolve a potentially dangerous situation. Former NYPD hostage negotiator Dominick Misino is an expert in active listening and knows first-hand the power it can have.

Throughout his career, Misino participated in many high-stakes mediations. Most notably, he successfully convinced the hijacker of Lufthansa Flight 592 to lay down his gun and surrender to authorities. You might expect a New Yorker engaged in a high-stress interaction with a criminal to do a lot of tough talking, threatening, and screaming. Misino, however, seems to talk more often about listening, empathy, and understanding.

For Misino, casual listening isn’t good enough. He describes his approach to hearing the other side as “active listening” and offers several specific techniques for becoming a better listener:

1. Mirroring – Mirroring involves “echo[ing] the other guy’s remarks to try and build a bridge between us.” When the other party states a position or offers up a fact, repeat that position and let them elaborate.

2. Look Behind the Words – “Another active-listening technique is to be constantly on the alert for the feelings being expressed behind the words.” What emotions are hiding behind the actual words being said?

3. Use We-Statements – “It sounds hokey until you’ve experienced it, but the very act of listening is empathetic. And when we do talk, we try to reinforce the empathy by using a lot of “we” statements: “We’re in this together” or “We can work this out.””

At Ken Garff, we believe in the power of active listening. We know that from the softest conversation to the most extreme mediation, listening can build understanding and empathy. Truly listening to others helps us find solutions in every circumstance, including how to make the car buying process as smooth as possible.



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