What is Active Listening?
Active listening is a way of expressing attentiveness and enthusiasm when listening to someone else. Showing that you have a genuine interest in what the speaker is saying will tell them that you actually care. Getting this across is key to establishing a connection with anyone. Therefore, by practicing active listening, you can grow those relationships quickly.
Why is Active Listening Important?
Communication is a fundamental part of every relationship, whether it be a friendship, co-worker, spouse, or manager. Even though the act of speaking and listening is simple, truly listening and comprehending in today’s loud and fast-paced world has become increasingly difficult. Often we face issues due to a misunderstanding that could easily be prevented by listening more intently. However, it’s not too late to change this. By practicing active listening and a few simple habits, you can train your brain to listen with intention.
Habits of an Active Listener
1. Focus on nonverbal communication
Nonverbal communication is vital for the listener because your nonverbal actions will speak for you without actively speaking. In the same way that an eye roll or shaking head can be interpreted as disrespect or disagreement, a smile and a reassuring nod will indicate that you are paying attention to what is being said and reaffirm the speaker.
2. Mind your thoughts
When practicing active listening, it is important not to let your thoughts drift from what the speaker is saying. Put yourself in their situation and imagine what you would do. It is often better to wait and hear someone out entirely before trying to offer suggestions. By minding your thoughts and focusing on only what the speaker is saying, you will better understand the situation and feel listened to.
3. Choose to interpret
Interpreting is the part of active listening, where you take in what has been said and reflect on it. A key point when interpreting is to refrain from passing judgment on the situation. Instead, try considering what is being said from the speaker’s perspective as best you can. By listening objectively, you will offer an unbiased response and more clearly understand what is being said.
4. Repeat back to others
A simple way to show someone you are listening is by repeating what was said back to the speaker. For example, you can start a sentence with “What you’re saying is…” or rephrasing what they said back to them. By doing this, they will know you were listening, and they can also make sure you understood what was meant.
5. Ask leading questions
In addition to actively listening and responding to others, you can establish relationships through active listening and asking leading questions. Open-ended questions such as “What is your opinion on it?” or “How does it make you feel?” can open up conversations entirely.
Active listening is a simple way to show someone that you care about what they have to say. In addition, they will feel that their information is valuable. Moving forward, it is my challenge to you to focus on actively listening in every conversation that you have. Use this method to create and strengthen your relationships with others.
Hearing someone is good. However, listening, reflecting, reiterating, and then responding with a question that furthers the conversation is more beneficial. By listening actively, you will become a better listener, a better communicator, and a better individual.