In two previous blog editions (1, 2), I pointed out several reasons why it's more important to listen than to speak during the interview process. I promised to provide the keys as to why listening is so important on a psychological level.
There are two interrelated concepts that are key components that you need to understand in order to recruit and retain better: Attunement and Attachment. More specifically, Attunement leads to Attachment.
Let's first look at attunement. Attunement is a term that psychiatrist, Daniel Stern, discovered and researched at length in the relationship between mothers and their babies. It turns out that mothers who mother well, somehow intuitively understand that "tuning in" to their baby's emotional state is a very active process. Mothers who understand this spend a great deal of "face time" trying to "read" and "match" their child's emotional state. We've all done this. When a child smiles, we smile. When they are sad and frown, we frown. We do this, subconsciously, to build very deep and enduring attachment.
Stern discovered that the mothers who didn't practice this attunement, didn't build strong or lasting attachments with their children. As the children matured, they felt less and less grief when their mother wasn't around if their mother hadn't provided this type of attunement.
From Stern's work, researchers have found several common applications among adults. Specifically, they found that adults need attunement as well. Adults too, need to be understood, empathized with, and generally given fairly frequent feedback about how they are doing and check-ins with how they are feeling, in order to build these attachments.
Some of you do this naturally with your candidates and agents, and now understand why you build such lasting attachments with your team. Others need to work hard at getting away from unhealthy self-aggrandizement and begin understanding others better.
Here is a quick definition of attunement or empathy: where the observed experiences of others come to affect our own thoughts and feelings. If what we say and what we offer is disconnected from what our candidate is feeling and thinking, we will miss our chance at building that important, but elusive, attachment.
What value does attunement have?
- It enables you to step outside your world and yourself and into their world.
- It enables you to tailor your behavior to the expectations of others.
- It creates smoother, more varied social interactions.
- It reduces social disruptions
- It helps you anticipate conflict
- It enables you to better acknowledge the needs of others
All the above then leads to an increased sense of attachment. And I can guarantee you this: we can't build attachment by listening to ourselves talk about us...
Editor's Note: This article was written by Dr. David Mashburn. Dave is a Clinical and Consulting Psychologist, a Partner at Tidemark, Inc. and a regular contributor to WorkPuzzle. Comments or questions are welcome. If you're an email subscriber, reply to this WorkPuzzle email. If you read the blog directly from the web, you can click the "comments" link below.