What is active listening?
Simply put active listening is listening to understand.
That is fully concentrating on what is being said rather than just passively ‘hearing’ what is being said by the speaker or worrying about what you are going to say next.
As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important to also be ‘seen’ to be listening – otherwise the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.
So, how can you actively listen?
Interest can be shown by using both verbal and non-verbal messages such as:
- maintaining eye contact,
- nodding your head and smiling,
- agreeing by saying ‘Yes’ or simply ‘Mmm hmm’ to encourage them to continue;
- by asking questions (if appropriate to the flow of conversation);
- by summarising what they said back to them and asking a further question or asking for clarification