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Active and Empathic Listening in Social Media: What do Stakeholders Really Expect

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Abstract

Researchers examined expectations and evaluations of active-empathic listening (AEL) during digital dialogic communication between organizations and customers. Through an experimental design, participants (N = 180) rated responses for social media communication from an organization to hypothetical customer messages. Results indicate individuals expect a high level of AEL from organizations’ social media responses, and higher active-empathic responses were rated as more competent. When communicating with an organization via social media, 22.1% stated that the response did not meet expectations versus 76.7% reporting the response met or exceeded expectations. Implications and future research avenues are discussed.

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... In a simple term, listening is the process of receiving, creating meaning from, responding, remembering and paying attention to verbal and unspoken signals (Macnamara, 2016). Previous studies have reported that optimal communication between stakeholders and organisations should be two-way symmetrical, and listening should be a piece of the relationship (Brunner, 2008;Gearhart and Maben, 2021;Grunig and Hunt, 1984). Effective listening can position an organisation in front of emerging issues and allow upfront response with immediate effect (Plati, 2005). ...
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... Of the studies that do address active listening, the focus is online listening using social media. For example, Maben and Gearhart (2018) suggested that organizations need to establish active listening mechanisms online to create a culture of dialogue; this is essential for customerfacing organizations that use social media to engage in dialogic communication with consumers (Gearhart & Maben, 2019). ...
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Previous studies of advocacy groups’ Web sites suggest that the use of dialogic strategies could lead to greater dialogic communication. This study examined whether dialogic strategies utilized by environmental advocacy groups via their social networking profiles lead to greater dialogic engagement between organizations and visitors. This study offers the first examination of the relationship between the creation of an online space for dialogue and actual dialogic engagement by identifying and measuring six dialogic outcomes.
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Listening is a desirable skill in organizational settings; good listening can improve worker productivity and satisfaction. The challenge facing consul tants is how to train employees to be competent listeners. Although much research in listening has taken place over the last few years, little of that research addresses workplace listening directly and much is based on false assumptions: that listening is a unitary concept, that listening is a cognitive rather than behavioral skill, and that listening is a linear act. In a 10-year study, we developed a model of organizational listening competency that does apply directly to the workplace. It provides a basis for assessing listening abil ity largely through the observations of co-workers. The model emphasizes two effective behaviors: accuracy, that is, confirming the message sent; and sup port, that is, affirming the relationship between the speaker and the listener: This model serves as an effective basis for improving workplace listening, both through formal training programs and through individual workers' own efforts.
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This study explored the listening competency of two organizations during organization-stakeholder engagement events with their respective stakeholders. The multidisciplinary research combined constructs from listening competency literature with concepts from participatory communication research to present a unique approach to organizational listening. The study explored organization listening practices within a specific context, using a framework that connects, assesses, and extends current literature. Results make a significant contribution to organization–stakeholder communication literature. An important contribution is the Burnside Organizational Listening Competency Questionnaire, combining concepts from listening competency, participatory communication, and service quality to assess the listening competency of an organization involved in stakeholder engagement.
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This study considers types of units of interactive behavior by contrasting time units and two kinds of natural units, utterances and thought units. An empirical investigation into comparative reliabilities and data distributions obtained when employing time units, utterances, and thought units on the same set of transcripts is reported. Generally, both the thought and utterance units possess the greatest utility for interaction analysis research, although each generates a data distribution different from the other.
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“Relationship” is a term that is used frequently in business communication. But what exactly is a business/organizational relationship? How is one built and maintained? Are processes such as listening and communication integral elements? This study attempts to suggest answers to the aforementioned questions using data collected from interviews with business communication professionals.
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This article frames a dialogic learning theory of communication ethics based upon Buber (1955, 1958), Gadamer (1988)37. Gadamer , H. G. 1988 . Truth and method, , 2nd ed. Edited by: Barden , G. and Cumming , J. New York : Crossroad . View all references, Freire (2000)36. Freire , P. 2000 . “ oppressed ” . In Pedagogy of the Edited by: Ramos , M. B. New York : Continuum Press . View all references, and Arendt (1998)8. Arendt , H. 1998 . The human condition Chicago : University of Chicago Press . View all references. This communication ethics theory privileges dialogic learning as first principle, accompanied by attending and listening as one searches for temporal answers emerging among three coordinates: (a) communicative partners (self and Other), (b) communicative content, and (c) the communicative demands of the historical moment. We situate a communication ethic within a philosophical and pragmatic first principle: dialogic learning (Arnett, Fritz, & Bell, 200915. Arnett , R. C. , Fritz , J. M. H. and Bell , L. M. 2009 . Communication ethics literacy: Dialogue and difference. Thousand Oaks, CA : Sage. . View all references), working within the tradition of Levinas (2001)52. Levinas , E. 2001 . Existence and existents Edited by: Berasconi , R. and Lingis , A. Pittsburgh, PA : Duquesne University Press . View all references that ethics is first philosophy and first principle (Bergo, 199921. Bergo , B. 1999 . Levinas between ethics and politics: For the beauty that adorns the earth. Boston : Kluwer Academic. . View all references).
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The current study extends the investigation of online relationship building by examining how Fortune 500 companies use the popular social network site Twitter to facilitate dialogic communication with stakeholders. A content analysis of a random sample of the Twitter profiles maintained by Fortune 500 companies (n = 93) and individual tweets posted on those profiles (n = 930) examined the use of dialogic features within the Twitter profiles as well as the individual tweets. Results indicated that organizations that have a dialogic orientation to Twitter use (61%) employed the principle of conservation of visitors to a greater degree and generation of return visits to a lesser degree than organizations with a non-dialogic orientation to Twitter (39%).
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This article presents a scale to measure active empathetic listening (AEL) of salespeople. AEL is defined as a form of listening practiced by salespeople in which traditional active listening is combined with empathy to achieve a higher form of listening. The AEL scale is composed of three dimensions: sensing, processing, and responding. Itemgeneration procedures and the results of three empirical studies are presented. Study 1 establishes that the item set is suitable for differentiating between effective and ineffective listeners from the point of view of customers. Study 2 determines that the item set is suitable for use by self-report of salespeople, establishes that it conforms to the three theoretical dimensions, and that it possesses convergent validity. Study 3 further refines the item set, confirms the dimensionality of the scale, and establishes that the scale possesses construct validity in the form of discriminant and nomological validity. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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Online privacy may critically impact social presence in an online learning environment. This study examined how online privacy affects social presence in online learning environments and whether e-mail, bulletin board, and real-time discussion affect online privacy. Mixed methods were used to examine the relationship between social presence and privacy. The participants rated computer-mediated communication (CMC) with a high degree of social presence, but the quantitative correlation between social presence and privacy failed to reach significance. Participants shared personal information on CMC knowing that it was risky because the medium lacked security despite the perceived high levels of social presence. This contradictional phenomenon can be explained as “risk-taking” behavior. Among three CMC systems, e-mail was ranked as the most private and followed by one-to-one real-time discussion, then many-to-many real-time discussion. Bulletin board was considered to afford the least privacy.
Article
This study examines the mediated communication of activist organizations to understand how these groups use their Web sites to build relationships with publics. A study of one hundred environmental organization Web sites identified common features and examined the incorporation of dialogic communication into this new medium. The data suggest that while most activist organizations meet the technical and design aspects required for dialogic relationship building on the Web, they are not yet fully engaging their publics in two-way communication. Moreover, it appears that the activist organizations are better prepared to address the needs of member publics rather than media needs.
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This essay clarifies the concept of dialogue in public relations. As public relations theory and research move toward a two-way relational communication model, many scholars and practitioners are increasingly using the terms “dialogic” and “dialogue” to describe ethical and practical approaches to public relations. The concept of dialogue is deeply rooted in philosophy and relational communication theory. Its inclusion in the public relations vocabulary is an important step toward understanding how organizations can build relationships that serve both organizational and public interests. This essay traces the roots of dialogue, identifies several over-arching tenets, and provides three ways that organizations can incorporate dialogue into their communication with publics.
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Since social networking sites, such as MySpace and Facebook, began allowing organizations to create profiles and become active members, organizations have started incorporating these strategies into their public relations programming. For-profit organizations have used these sites to help launch products and strengthen their existing brands; however, little is known about how nonprofit organizations are taking advantage of the social networking popularity. Through a content analysis of 275 nonprofit organization profiles on Facebook, this study examines how these new social networking sites are being used by the organizations to advance their organization's mission and programs. Solely having a profile will not in itself increase awareness or trigger an influx of participation. Instead careful planning and research will greatly benefit nonprofits as they attempt to develop social networking relationships with their stakeholders.
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The recent emergence of online social media has had a significant effect on the contemporary political landscape, yet our understanding of this remains less than complete. This article adds to current understanding of the online engagement between politicians and the public by presenting the first quantitative analysis of the utilisation of the social network tool Twitter by Australian politicians. The analysis suggests that politicians are attempting to use Twitter for political engagement, though some are more successful in this than others. Politicians are noisier than Australians in general on Twitter, though this is due more to broadcasting than conversing. Those who use Twitter to converse appear to gain more political benefit from the platform than others. Though politicians cluster by party, a relatively 'small world' network is evident in the Australian political discussion on Twitter.