So I picked up my book, Difficult Conversations, again and strangely enough the first paragraph I started on was about authenticity in active listening (Read Points of View and Everything In-Between to catch up).
Scores of workshops and books on “active listening” teach you what you should do to be a good listener. … You emerge from these courses eager to try out your new skills, only to become discouraged when your fiends or colleagues complain that you should phony or mechanical. …
The problem is this: you are taught what to say and how to sit, but the heart of good listening is authenticity. People “read” not only your words and posture, but what’s going on inside of you. If your “stance” isn’t genuine, the words won’t matter. What will communicated almost invariable is whether you are genuinely curious, whether you care about the other person. If your intentions are false, no amount of careful wording or good posture will help. If your intentions are good, even clumsy language won’t hinder you.
This doesn’t help the particular situation I’ve found myself to be in, but I thought it good to share.