Active listening is key to successful communication

active listening Nov 13, 2021
Active listening is the key to good communication skills

“We have two ears and one mouth. That is probably because listening is twice as hard as talking.” Anonymous

The more you listen, the better you’ll speak. Listen not only to the words spoken by the other person, but also to the tone of those words and the body language used to express them. Here are some tips to help you really listen.

Be honest. If you don’t have time to truly listen, arrange to talk later.

Pay attention: Give the person your FULL attention. If you’re on a Zoom call don't check your emails or text messages. If you're on the telephone, don’t multi-task by reading or typing on your computer. People will hear or sense that you are distracted. This will not help build a good relationship. If you get a business call on your mobile phone while you’re driving, pull over or arrange to talk later.

Demonstrate you are engaged: Give the speaker a response that says "YES I’m listening to you. I hear you”.  You can paraphrase what the speaker said: “My understanding of what you said is….” or  “Let me see if I understand what you’ve been saying…”
Show active listening: Use your body language to acknowledge you hear the other person. Nod, smile, lean forward, maintain eye contact, have an open body posture, be relaxed.

Monitor underlying emotions: When a  speaker is feeling strongly about something, his emotions are engaged. In order to really listen to the person (as opposed to just hearing his words) you need to be in touch with the feelings. Let the speaker work through the emotion before you respond. Then paraphrase the feelings and the facts to let the speaker know you’ve heard.

Don't rush to interrupt: Give the speaker a chance to say what they want to say, before you jump in with questions or comments. 

Don't rush to judgement: Everyone has the right to express their opinions. You may not agree - but you should respect the other person's right to their feelings and opinions. So don’t judge verbally, or non verbally with your body language.

Respond: Always say something, even if it's just “Let me think about that.” Say what’s appropriate to the situation. Be honest and respectful. Treat the other person the way you would like to be treated.