Active listening

Listening is an important part of effective communication. We have conversations throughout the day, but sometimes we’re not listening as well as we could. There are times when we’re distracted by our phone, or the person may be telling us something we don’t want to hear. This can result in miscommunication and 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.


Tips for active listening

Active Listening Do’s

  • Try to relax and set a comfortable tone.
  • Look at the person.
  • 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…’ or ‘The thing you feel most important is…’


Active Listening Don’ts

  • Don’t get distracted by things that are going on around you.
  • 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. Listening is a skill that will improve with practice.


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