What is Active Listening?

To be an effective listener, you have to tune out your own point of view for a while and tune into the other person.  You focus on them.  This is an acquired skill - an active, not a passive, process.
 
8 Active Listening Pointers
Stop talking.
You cannot listen and talk at the same time.
 
Control your thinking.
Are you really listening or just forming your next response? Put that on hold for as long as it takes to really hear the other person.
 
Use silence.
Silence shows you are listening and can help to draw the other person out.
 
Remove distractions.
Ensure the environment is supporting you to give a good listening experience..
 
Use appropriate questions.
Open and clarifying questions are important tools in getting the other person to talk. 
 
Express interest.
The other person needs to feel you are interested in them and what they have to say.  Use body language and verbal support to encourage them.
 
Reflect feelings.
Active listening is more than simply hearing the words and responding to them.  Active listening means you are alert to underlying fears, concerns and emotions as well as to the words. Check out the emotions you are picking up – “you sound angry about that, am I right?”
 
Clarify understanding. 
Ask for clarification.  This signals that you are really listening and helps you understand the other person and the issue at hand. Paraphrasing what the other person has said is a key skill.
 
Reflection…
1. How do others experience you as a listener?
2. What traps do you fall into when listening?
3. How can you work on being a better listener?


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