Listening is possibly the essential element of human interaction. How well do I listen to influence quality relationships? It can also affect our relationships and our interaction around job duties and our ability and quality of work. Active Listening is the difference between listening with the desire to know thoroughly. Listening doesn’t come naturally or easily to most of us though it is a skill that must be practiced and trained regularly.

What is Active Listening?

Active Listening is the process of listening to a person sharing information or ideas and taking those in what the speaker is saying. Active Listening involves focusing on both verbal messages (the words) and nonverbal messages (facial expressions, gestures, tone).

Listening doesn’t mean just hearing: Active listeners are attuned to what they hear and observe body language and expressions that provide additional cues. Active Listening also involves observing verbal and non-verbal clues, giving feedback to show you’re paying attention, encouraging the speaker to keep talking about a particular subject to build understanding between two people. Active Listening is an “active” process where the listener hears words and tries to make meaning out of them. Active Listening doesn’t mean just hearing; it means using what we hear and observing body language and facial expressions that provide additional cues.

Focusing on the speaker: Active listeners focus their attention entirely on the person who is speaking. Active listeners also try to clarify what the speaker means by paraphrasing, summarizing, and asking questions (not always with yes or no answers). Active Listening involves being present with another person while they share their thoughts & feelings without trying to “figure out” how you should respond when that person pauses or ends an idea.

Active Listening requires that you be present with another person while sharing their thoughts & feelings; Active listeners do not try to “figure out” how to respond when the speaker pauses or ends a review.

Active Listening can seem unnatural at first, but as your confidence builds, so will your Active Listening skills. Listening is a skill that can be acquired, practiced, and improved, giving you the ability to connect with others in your daily life. Listening isn’t only for romantic partners or people we want to impress – it’s about connection & understanding other human beings!

Here are 11 quick tips on how to improve listening skills:

Keep eye contact.

Make direct eye contact to demonstrate your attention and desire to listen. This does not imply that you should stare. However, intense eye contact might be frightening for some people—particularly shy or introverted individuals. Be reasonable, but don’t let your eyes wander around the room while doing so.

Give nonverbal cues that you are listening.

Nod from time to time, or say “I see” if the speaker stops at the moment. Active Listening also involves observing verbal and non-verbal clues, giving feedback (not always with yes or no answers). This lets others know they’re being heard. Active listeners will provide feedback to show that they’re paying attention. Active Listening is an “active” process where the listener hears words and tries to make meaning out of them. Active Listening doesn’t mean just listening. And it means using what we hear and observing body language and facial expressions that provide additional cues.

Use silence to your advantage.

A silence in a conversation might be intimidating, but it allows the speaker time to collect their thoughts and allows you to understand what is being said. In addition, silence can encourage the speaker to keep talking about a particular subject for you and them both to build understanding between two people.

Stay open-minded

Don’t evaluate or critically judge what the speaker is saying to you. This may impede your capacity to comprehend what is being said. Never demonstrate judgmental behavior; it will damage your ability to listen effectively. After the speaker has finished speaking, you can assess what was said, but don’t do so until after they’ve finished talking.

Interrupting the speaker or preventing them from finishing their remarks is impolite. Interrupting the speaker or prohibiting them from completing what they have to say might be interpreted as a lack of respect for the speaker. Interrupting the speaker mid-sentence often disrupts their train of thought and swiftly destroys a fruitful discussion.

Don’t interrupt 

Keep quiet and wait for the speaker to finish. Suppose you must interrupt, do so only to confirm that you have heard the other person. Interrupt diplomatically. “Might I interrupt to ask if you could clarify anything?” is an excellent example of an effective interruption.

Be appropriate when responding.

Maintain a courteous tone. In your responses, be open and honest. Embrace an informative yet civil and considerate style. You can express the speaker’s worries and ideas even if you disagree, especially if you disagree. Active Listening is not equivalent to the passive agreement. Active Listeners can receive and understand information from speakers without necessarily agreeing with their point of view or acting upon it.

Be a good listener

Remember that Active Listening requires you to listen, which means keeping your mind open & being receptive to what the speaker is saying. Keep in mind that Listening is a two-way process – the speaker should also be trying to listen and not just wait for their turn to talk. Active Listening requires effort from both sides!

Sometimes it’s easier than others; traveling can make Active Listening particularly difficult (when we’re all tired & cranky). Try your best because Active Listening is key to building healthy relationships and being a strong leader. Active Listening skills are essential for good interpersonal communication with others, especially when we’re tired & cranky! Sometimes it’s easier than others; traveling can make Active Listening particularly difficult (when we’re all tired & cranky). Active Listening requires effort from both sides.

Ask questions to ensure your understanding.

During lunch, a coworker enthusiastically shares her trip to Vermont, including all of the great activities and sights she saw. She tells you that she spent some time with a mutual friend during this story. “Oh, I haven’t heard from Alice in ages,” you say, shifting the conversation to Alice and her divorce, as well as the poor state of her health. It turns out your coworker hasn’t heard from Alice because she is at work, and you have no idea why this person has not been in touch with the friend or the rest of their family about it! Active Listening requires you to listen attentively, ask questions and gather information.

An excellent Active Listener should also be able to summarize what the speaker is saying. Summarizing allows Active Listeners to ensure that they have heard correctly and are not missing important details or facts. Active listeners often use summarization to highlight critical points for discussion or to check for accuracy. Active Listening requires effort from both sides!

Summarize what the speaker is saying

Active Listening can be difficult at times, with conversations becoming derailed or misunderstood. Active listeners often use summarization to highlight critical points for discussion or ensure that they have heard correctly and are not missing important details or facts. Active Listening requires effort from both sides!

Don’t be afraid to state your opinion if it’s appropriate.

Active Listening is not the same as passive agreement. Active Listeners can receive and understand information from speakers without necessarily agreeing with their point of view or acting upon it. Active listeners often use summarization to highlight critical issues for discussion or to check for accuracy. Active Listening requires effort from both sides!

Mind-body language

Keep an open position, a non-aggressive stance, face the speaker, lean in rather than away, mind your hands, how you turn your head and your expressions and be conscious of your body language. (For example, I tend to cross my arms in front of me because it feels comfortable and wrinkle my brow because I’m thinking.) Active Listening requires you to listen, which means keeping your mind open & being receptive to what the speaker is saying. Active Listening involves effort from both sides!

Watch also this video!

See also those posts:
4 Types of Listening and How to Apply Them Effectively: Read this article now >>
Four Types of Conversation: the Basics: Read also>>

Conclusion

We hope you’ve found this article helpful! For more information on how to improve your active listening skills, be sure to read our blog post series. If you are happy with what you have learned and want more great content, we offer a free weekly newsletter full of exciting articles like this one.

Author

Professional consultant and project manager in software houses. He has over 8 years of experience as a project manager for key clients. Currently mainly works on business consulting and communication with strategic clients. Privately a fan of good food, board games, and cycling. He loves to share his experience with new people!

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