Active Listening

It came to my attention yesterday in a client meeting that not everybody has heard of active listening.  Because in my business it is practically as basic as the alphabet, I forget that it isn’t common knowledge.  So this blog post is for those of you who didn’t get the memo.

What is Active Listening:  A way of listening that leaves the speaker feeling heard to his/her satisfaction.

Listen by:

  • Paying attention to nonverbal cues, such as tone of voice or emotion
  • Suspending judgment or personal beliefs and opinions
  • Using engaged gestures or occasional casual phrases (I see, mmm, right, uh-huh)
  • Maintaining eye contact
  • Waiting until l the person appears to be finished before responding (don’t jump in just because they pause for breath, or to think).

Respond by:

  • Asking clarifying questions to explore meaning and expand understanding
    • Can you expand on that?
    • What happened exactly?
  • Paraphrasing what the person has said to acknowledge and conform what you have heard
    • So what I think you said was…
    • It sounds like…
  • Verifying observations or intuition to ascertain underlying context
    • Seems like…
    • I sense there might be more…
  • Sharing your own related experience – if invited – and then briefly, to demonstrate grasp of point of view or experience.

Practice with your significant other tonight!

6 thoughts on “Active Listening

  1. Active Listening is the bread and butter of Conflict Resolution; the basic tool for mediation.
    My students go through the drill:

    reflect what happened
    reflect feelings
    reflect the meaning of what happened for the speaker…

    It’s so powerful! very few people really listens, and when you do, all changes in relationships. Thanks

  2. Interesting timing. I was in a meeting today and one of the participants continually “jumped” in on the words of the speaker/presenter. He definitely did not practice “active listening”.

  3. Active listening is to actually listen to the heart of what’s being said. It’s listening to the voice of silence, listening and comprehending what was not said. It is listening to the emotions masked behind the faces we see. It understanding the language of the mids & hearts of others.

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