8 Techniques To Help You Actively Listen

Steps To Becoming An Active Listener

Maybe you haven't heard of active listening before. It's listening with the intent of understanding the whole meaning of what's being said. You do this by allowing the person to speak without interruption, and then you repeat what they said. The goal of active listening is to improve understanding between both parties. You may not believe it, but there's more to listening than merely being quiet.

Someone who's an active listener will encourage the speaker to talk, try to clarify any points that they don't understand, and make sure that they're aware of the speaker's intent. An active listener will enable the speaker to feel like they've truly been heard and understood. Before you begin a conversation, especially if the subject matter is important, be sure that you're in a location where you won't be interrupted by noise or distractions. This sets the stage for a meaningful conversation. Follow these nine techniques to active listening.

1Always Be Attentive

Pay attention to the person speaking to you. Stay focused on what they're saying without trying to anticipate what they're going to say next. Stay in the moment.

2Respect The Speaker

Even if you think that you know what they're going to say, try to listen to what's being said. Pay attention to both verbal and nonverbal clues. Body language, facial expressions, and posture can all provide a detailed picture of what's going on.

3Be Neutral And Avoid Anger

Avoid confrontation or anger. You're not trying to win an argument. You're trying to understand the person that you're speaking with.

Try to keep your personal beliefs from clouding the speaker's statements. Be neutral when listening. Focus on the speaker.

4Don't Jump To Conclusions

Regardless of what the speaker says, don't make assumptions or judgments about what they said. Find out all the facts. Ask questions if you need to.

For example, if you see someone who's unshaven and poorly dressed, you might assume that he's homeless. The case may be that his wife had to be rushed to the hospital to deliver their baby, and he didn't have time to clean up first. You can't make assumptions.

5Clarify By Asking Questions

If you don't understand what's being said, clarify by asking questions. Refrain from interrupting the speaker. Ask your questions in an even tone of voice when the speaker pauses.

6Don't Be Distracted

Try not to become distracted or lose track of what's being said. Daydreaming about what you need at the grocery store won't help your friend in need. If you lose track of the conversation, you'll come across as uncaring.

7Give Appropriate Nonverbal Cues

When you're actively listening to someone, your body language will show whether you're paying attention or not. Look at the speaker in the eye while they're talking. You can try to maintain eye contact as long as it's comfortable for both of you.

Reach out and touch their arm or shoulder. This will also help the person you're speaking with recognize that you're interested in what they're saying. Nodding your head is another indication that you're listening.

8Repeat Back What You Heard

Try to repeat what you heard from the speaker. This lets the speaker know that you're listening. Also, when you say what you understood, it gives them a chance to clarify any miscommunications.

Being heard and understood is a need for every member of the human family. We all want to know that the people in our lives care about us. Having someone listen and respond to your needs can help you feel important. Conversely, you give others a boost when you listen carefully to them. This is where active listening techniques become important.

You can learn how to listen actively. It doesn't take long, and the results will be worth the effort. You, your spouse, business partner, co-worker, or children will all benefit from learning and employing these simple active listening techniques.

About Author

John Quintana

John Quintana is a proud Cuban, a lifelong resident of Miami, Florida, where he lives surrounded by a loving family. When he's not writing, he spends his time either fishing or in the kitchen.