AMPP-lify Your Listening
In their book Crucial Conversations, Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Al Switzler, and Ron McMillan outline a powerful model for active listening, with the acronym AMPP:
- A: Ask – By showing a genuine interest in what’s going on with the other person, we are able to bring potential issues to light. What better avenue do we have to learn another person’s reality than to ask them?
- M: Mirror – Mirroring is a powerful leadership tool, especially when it comes to having difficult conversations. Suppose you’re sitting across from someone having a conversation, when suddenly the other person leans back, arms folded. No words are exchanged, yet we sense something is wrong. If asked, “How are you doing?” The reply is often “Fine, fine.” In this case, mirroring becomes a powerful tool to explore what we just noticed, providing the other person with a mirror of the situation: “Although I hear you say you’re fine, based on your body language and tone of voice, I’m picking up that maybe you are not. I recognize I may be wrong. I wanted to check in because that is very important to me.”
- P: Paraphrase – Whether we get it right or wrong, paraphrasing is an excellent way to demonstrate empathy and to show that we are actively listening. When we get it right, the other person is satisfied that we understood what was said. When we are wrong, it gives the other person the opportunity to correct us; an action that many of us, deep down, actually enjoy.
- P: Prime – Lastly, “prime” means that if there is an elephant in the room, we need to declare it. If we do not, people will likely think one of two things: either we do not care about the issue, or we are not smart enough to recognize that there is one. Each of these options is bad, so we might as well name the elephant from the outset. Remember, by priming the conversation, we are ultimately seeking the other party’s cooperation to come up with a solution that respects everyone’s needs.