Man sitting on a couch active listening to his partner

Active listening


Listening is an important part of effective communication.

We have conversations throughout the day, but there may be times when we’re not listening as well as we could. There are times when we’re distracted by something on the TV or our phone, or the person may be telling us stuff we don’t want to hear. This can result in the other person thinking that we are ignoring their feelings and opinions.

By showing that you are actively listening, you are making a conscious effort to understand what the other person is saying.

Below are some simple techniques for active listening.


Active Listening Do’s

  • Try to relax.
  • Look at the person.
  • Speak quietly and clearly.
  • Nod and give positive prompts such as ‘uh-huh’ and ‘I see’.
  • If the person says something you don’t understand, ask for clarification. For example, ‘What do you mean when you say…’
  • Ask open questions that begin with who, what, where or when. These will open up the conversation.
  • If your mind wanders, admit it and apologise.
  • Try to summarise what they are saying and how they feel. For example, ‘It sounds like you’re saying…’


Active Listening Don’ts

  • Don’t criticise the person or enter into a debate, as this will likely lead to an argument.
  • Don’t cut the person off before they have finished speaking.
  • Don’t try to correct the person or defend yourself.
  • Try not to leap to a solution. The person may just want you to listen, rather than offer a suggestion.

Active listening will signal to the person you are listening and are interested in what they are saying.


Mensline Australia’s Changing for Good welcomes new participants. Men who have completed a men’s behaviour change program and want to get extra support in their efforts at change, can ‘self-refer’. Just call 1300 015 120 and leave a message with your name and contact details and one of the team will follow up with you.

Get Help

For support in maintaining change and building violence-free relationships,
contact Changing for Good to find out how we can help.

Simply call to leave your details or download the expression of interest form and email it to us.