Active listening is a crucial interpersonal communication skill. The difference between listening and hearing is vital. Most people have excellent hearing but poor listening skills. Listening necessitates being present and engaged in the discussion. Consider your most recent discussion. Who were you conversing with? What exactly did you say? What did you learn? Most importantly, did the dialogue deepens, impede, or leave your connection unchanged?
Active listening is one technique to strengthen your interpersonal relationships. Being an active listener entails paying full attention to what is stated without offering advice or passing judgment. It takes deliberate effort to hear what another person says. It takes time and effort to master this ability, but the rewards are priceless.
Most of us aren’t excellent listeners; studies show that we only remember between 25% and 50% of what we hear. When you chat for 10 minutes with your employer, coworkers, clients, or spouse, they will only listen to around half of what you say. So it’s all about how you choose your words.
Active Listening Definition
Active listening is the process by which an individual secures information from another individual or group. It needs complete concentration, comprehension, response, and subsequent recall of what is stated. You actively listen and comprehend the entire message rather than just hearing the speaker’s message passively, you actively listen and understand the whole message.
10 Tips to Practice Active Listening
Non-verbal signs of active listening
- Maintain eye contact with the other individual.
- Maintain an open mind. Imagine what the other person is saying while you listen to the words.
- Develop your natural curiosity
- Curiosity is the most effective technique for creating relationships since curious people are the finest listeners.
- Commit to learning something new before engaging in an exchange, whether it is a one-on-one chat or a group gathering. Put your brain in learning mode by stimulating it.
- Show empathy. Try to empathise with the individual in front of you. Put yourself in his shoes for a moment. Sadness, joy, and fear are all emotions that may be expressed through facial expressions and speech.
- Avoid mental and physical distractions.
- The goal of active listening is to focus on dialogue. Multitasking is a thing of the past. Listening necessitates avoidance and rejection of all physical and mental distractions. E.g. Phones, laptops, and other electronic devices.
- Once you have identified the trigger, mentally label it as a “distraction” to help you remember it when it happens again. When you are distracted, pay attention to what is happening and what is being said. When you pick up the phone, be aware of your surroundings.
- Listen to understand, not to answer. Help him by asking questions to help him analyse his thoughts or feelings. His solutions are usually better than what you could offer him.
Most people do not listen to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. They’re either speaking or preparing to speak.Stephen Covey
Verbal Signs of active listening
- Don’t interrupt, and don’t impose your solutions.
- Do not interrupt the conversation with counter-arguments. It is a waste of time to interrupt. It irritates and restricts the message’s overall comprehension. Before asking questions, let the other person finish their point.
- When someone brings up a concern, refrain from offering remedies. The majority of people are uninterested in your viewpoint. Otherwise, they will inquire. Typically, they will want you to listen to them and assist them in finding solutions.
- Summarise and clarify. Briefly summarise what you understood while listening and ask the other person to do the same. Do not hesitate to ask questions that are ambiguous or unclear.
- Ask open-ended questions
- Avoid “yes or no” questions; they often produce dead-end answers. Instead, ask open-ended questions about the person to show you are interested in them and encourage thoughtful expansive responses.
- If you’d like to understand something the person has said better, ask for clarification. But don’t focus so much on insignificant details that you miss the big picture.
- Give regular feedback. Show that you understand where the other person is coming from by reflecting on their feelings. For example: “You must be delighted! »,« What a terrible ordeal this must be for you »,« I can see that you are confused. “
Benefits of Active Listening
- Builds deep trust – When you practice genuine listening, you invite individuals to open up. They can tell you will not make snap decisions based on little facts. They also realise you care about them enough to pay attention. While developing trust takes time, the advantages are enormous, including lasting friendships and the assurance of assistance in tough times.
- Strengthens your patience – Being a good listener requires practice, and it is something you will need to work on overtime. However, when you improve your listening skills, one of the side effects is the development of patience. Patience allows others to share their true feelings and ideas without being judged.
- Increases competence and knowledge – Employees with excellent listening abilities, regardless of their job, become more competent. Listening improves comprehension and aids in completing task needs through gradual learning. The more information an individual can glean from meetings, orders, and reports, the more efficient and successful they will be in accomplishing the work.
- It broadens your viewpoint – Your point of view on life is not always the whole truth or how everyone else sees it. Listening to other people’s opinions helps you see life from various angles, some of which you may not have considered previously.
- Makes you approachable – When you exhibit yourself as a patient listener, people are naturally drawn to talk to you. Being present for them allows them to express their emotions freely.
- Helps detect and solve problems – Leaders should always be attentive to what employees have to say to recognise and fix problems. They are the first to notice weaknesses and provide ideas for change in the workplace. Listening to colleagues can assist you in determining what needs to be altered and improved to retain and develop talent.
Example of active listening
Communication is a soft skill more critical than ever in today’s high-tech and high-stress world. However, we spend less and less time listening to each other. Genuine, attentive listening has become rare.
When practising active listening, you make the other person feel heard and valued. It’s a solid foundation for any successful conversation, whether at work, at home, or social situations. When you master active listening, the GROW model is a very effective tool to improve your management and communication skills. David Gousset
Another post on communication: How to communicate with your boss.