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Understanding Each Other at Work: An Examination of the Effects of Perceived Empathetic Listening on Psychological Safety in the Supervisor-Subordinate Relationship Open Access

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The purpose of this research was to identify the relationship between feelings of self and other psychological safety by subordinates and their perception of their supervisors' listening behaviors. This study employed a nonexperimental, correlational design using two different instruments. The first instrument was the Dyadic Psychological Safety Scales for self psychological safety and other psychological safety, as developed by Tynan (2005). The second instrument was the Active Empathetic Listening Scale, with its three subscales for sensing, processing, and responding, as developed by Drollinger, Comer, and Warrington (2006). Using a web-based survey, data were collected from 119 participants of a population of 145 employees of a leading Internet-based research company headquartered in the Northeastern United States. Eighty-five percent of the participants were between the ages of 20 and 40, and the majority of respondents self-identified as female, Caucasian, and having had less than 5 years of experience working with the company.The results of the statistical analysis, using Pearson product moment correlations, determined three main findings: (a) there was a significant positive relationship between a subordinate's sense of self psychological safety and his or her perception of the perceived empathetic listening of his or her supervisor; (b) there was a significant positive relationship between a subordinate's sense of other psychological safety and his or her perception of the perceived empathetic listening of his or her supervisor; and (c) analysis of the two instruments suggested the need for additional refinement to improve their effectiveness.

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