Can listening training empower service employees? The mediating roles of anxiety and perspective-taking

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Can improving employees’ interpersonal listening abilities impact their emotions and cognitions during difficult conversations at work? The studies presented here examined the effectiveness of listening training on customer service employees. It was hypothesized that improving employees’ listening skills would (a) reduce their anxiety levels during difficult conversations with customers, (b) increase their ability to understand the customers’ point of view (i.e., perspective-taking), and (c) increase their sense of competence. The two quasi-experiments provide support for the hypotheses. Study 1 (N = 61) consisted of a pre-post design with a control group and examined the effect of listening training on customer service employees in a Fortune 500 company. Study 2 (N = 33) conceptually replicated the results of Study 1 using listening training conducted in one branch of a company that provides nursing services compared to another branch of the company that did not receive training. The results indicated that listening training had lasting effects on employees’ listening abilities, anxiety reduction, and perspective-taking during difficult conversations. The discussion centres on the importance of interpersonal listening abilities to the empowerment wellbeing of employees in the workplace.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)938-952
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by a grant Number 460/18 from the Israel Science Foundation The author is grateful for the constructive comments by Avi Kluger, Jennifer Grau, Netta Weinstein and Harry Reis, and thanks Drey Taylor and Nithin Skaria for their help with data collection.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis.


  • Training
  • anxiety
  • empowerment
  • interpersonal listening
  • well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


Dive into the research topics of 'Can listening training empower service employees? The mediating roles of anxiety and perspective-taking'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this