communication skills conversation analysis Empathy and Active Listening

Mental Presence. Increase your attention and perception during interactions. What best world coaches do

Copyright by Dr. Daniele Trevisani. Article extracted with author’s permission from the book “Ascolto attivo ed Empatia. I segreti di una comunicazione efficace” (translated title: “Active Listening and Empathy: The Secretes of Effective Communication”. The book’s rights are on sale in any language. Please contact Dr. Daniele Trevisani for information at the website

Mental Presence: Knowing how to pick up signals, and what best coaches do

There is an urgent need to return to our ancestral sensibilities. We urgently need to restore our ability to increase our mental presence to perceive correctly, even before logically evaluating data alone. To do this, we must apply mental presence in conversations and know how to use listening in a special way, making it an “augmented perception” of any signal that enters our sphere:

  1. Verbal auditory signals. What did Tom just say at the other table?
  2. Paralinguistic auditory signals. Can I hear a person’s vocal stress?
  3. Tactile-tactile signals (did someone just sit in this chair? Is it warm?), or “what does this handshake tell me about you?
  4. Kinaesthetic-visual signals: how is the team today? Understand it in stride, in posture. Understand it even in the locker room. Do they seem calm or agitated? Demotivated or motivated?
  5. Olfactory Signals: What is this new smell I smell in my newly purchased car, have I ever paid attention to it? Am I aware that it is an engineered smell, or do I think it is a result of chance?
  6. Emotional Signals: how am I in the moment, how is my anxiety, my joy, my heart, my dreaming, my living in relationship with others and myself? E... How is the person in front of me? How is he/she breathing, what is he/she feeling?
  7. Body signs: what job might the second from the right on that table be doing, based on the type of muscles and how he is dressed and the marks I notice on his skin?
  8. Holistic signals: who is the most dangerous or dissonant person in this train car or bar, is there someone who might be dangerous? Based on what do I notice?

The signals are many. Signs of love, signs of hate, signs of indifference, signs of fear, signs of disgust, signs of friendship. If only we knew how to catch them all….

But as soon as we realize that the discourse does not touch our vital interests, we turn around and continue in our distracted way.

Distraction is an evil of the age.

The “rage of the times” and the rush have brought listening to absolute lows in the history of Western civilization.

Smartphones and other electronic devices have replaced people, and so we have become good at “listening” to the signals of electronic devices, recognizing a beep from a different beep, manipulating a phone or a touchscreen, but less good at looking into the eyes of a person who is speaking to us live and grasping their nuances, micro expressions, tone of voice, gaze, head nods, and understanding what they are feeling, and whether or not they are lying.

Throughout the book there will be dozens and dozens of useful tools to re-learn the art and technique of “reading people” – which means practicing a “listening beyond words”. The important thing is that the spark is ignited in us. The spark of ancestral DNA. The spark of curiosity.

The fury of the times has accustomed students to quizzes, multiple-choice tests, computerized exams, and the oral exam is slowly disappearing from the landscape of academic training because it “takes too long”. Thus, we no longer learn to “tune in to the Professor and his interests that we may have heard in class,” because it has become unnecessary.

Even in groups of boys and girls, sitting at a table in a restaurant, one can notice a constant “doing” but with one’s smartphone, and an almost physical absence of where people really are, with rare, very rare conversations between participants, often superficial.

It’s never easy to listen. Sometimes it’s more comfortable to act deaf, turn on the Walkman, and isolate yourself from everyone. It is so easy to replace listening with emails, texts and chats, and in this way we deprive ourselves of faces, glances and hugs.

(Pope Francis)


© 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.

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