How and Why We Listen

by Susan Elmore


Building connection – between our clients and their audiences, between their objectives and our expertise, between their stories and the media interested in telling them – is what compelled me to start Elmore Public Relations more than 28 years ago.

Fostering connection is a powerful tool in storytelling. And it is through thoughtful, empathetic listening that I have found connection is most deeply made. Listening – moreover, active listening – is so important to me and my practice that it has become a core value of Elmore PR and the cornerstone of our success.

I am passionate about training our team to be expert active listeners. Whether with a colleague, a client, or a reporter, when we listen empathetically, we communicate effectively.

Universally and fundamentally, people want to feel heard and acknowledged. Active listening is reciprocal listening; it is how we honor a speaker’s reality to propel us toward a common goal.

Active listening requires one to:

  1. Come to a conversation with no assumptions and a mind clear of distractions;
  2. Focus on the speaker;
  3. Acknowledge and repeat back what you have heard to clarify or validate. (This is where our clients hear us respond with, “What I heard you say is…”);
  4. Allow the speaker to correct or add;
  5. Finally, show empathy and recognition of the speaker’s position.

Once a speaker feels their perspective has been understood, they are much more inclined to work collaboratively toward a solution, agreement, understanding, or resolution.

At Elmore PR, active listening is the tool by which clarity is attained, trust is built, relationships are forged, and tangible results are achieved. Win, win, win, win.