How to practice active listening?

How to practice active listening?

Active listening is one of the important aspects of communication. It refers to a pattern of listening in which the listener is engaged with his/her conversation partner in a very positive way. Active listening is a process of listening sharply and closely while someone speaks, interpreting and reflecting on what is said, and refraining from interrupting.

When you practice active listening you make a connection with the speaker. It makes the speaker heard and valued. It can be said that active listening is the foundation for any successful conversation.

 

In the process of active listening, the attention of the listener is required towards the speaker. It doesn't only mean listening to what is being said. When you practice active listening you are engrossed in listening to what is being said and making a connection to it. You listen with all your senses and pay full attention to the speaker.

Below are some features of active listening:

  • Neutral and nonjudgmental
  • Patience (periods of silence are not "filled")
  • Feedback to show signs of listening (It could be verbal or non-verbal e.g., smiling, eye contact, leaning in, mirroring)
  • Curious to ask a question
  • Reflecting on what is said
  • Asking for clarification
  • Summarizing

 

The Purpose of active listening:

Active listening helps in earning the trust of others and helping you to understand their thoughts and situations. Active listening is imbibed with both a willingness to comprehend and to empathize with the speaker.

 

Active listening doesn't mean engaging in unhelpful listening habits such as:

  • Being lost in your thoughts
  • Showing disrespect to the speaker
  • Only hearing superficial meaning
  • Interrupting while the speaker is speaking
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Rushing the speaker
  • Distracting yourself from the speaker
  • Forgetting what was said in the past
  • Asking about unimportant details
  • Paying attention to minute details and ignoring the big picture
  • Ignoring what you don't understand
  • Daydreaming
  • Pretending to be attentive

 

Benefits of Active Listening

Practicing active listening can bring many positive changes to your life.

Relationships

For any relationship, the part where people understand each other is very important. Active listening plays a very pivotal role in building the foundations of trust and a better understanding. It allows you to comprehend the thoughts of another person and builds a feeling of empathy. Active listening also makes you ask questions and clear your doubts and queries which results in transparency. When you practice active listening you give validation to the speaker and let them convey more.

In a relationship, when you actively listen to your partner it makes your partner feel that this conversation is more about 'us'. It is quite important when a relationship partner is distressed and worried.

 

Work

Active listening at work is quite important if you are in a managerial position or often interact with your colleagues. Active listening lets you understand problems and collaborate to find solutions. It also manifests your patience level, a valuable skill in any workplace.

Social Situations

In social gatherings, active listening will benefit you as you interact with new people. Asking questions, seeking clarification, and perceiving body language are all ways to learn more about the people you interact with.


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