How to master active listening

Active listening is a communication skill that can be applied to greatly improve the quality of your communication. It is an essential part of any great communicator’s toolbox and is one of the few things you can start doing straight away and notice amazing results!

Mastering the practice of active listening will bring you many benefits and improve the impact you have on people in your conversations. There old saying you have two ears and one mouth has never been so true!

To become a good active listener you need to:

In this article, we will show you what each step means, how to apply it, and give you some tips on how to master the practice! Active listening is one of the best ways to improve communication and is a skill that will keep rewarding you time and time again!

Pay attention to your parter through active listening
Paying attention shows respect

It all starts with Paying Attention!

The first step in becoming an active listener is to bring yourself into the moment and pay attention!

Here are 5 tips on how to improve your ability to pay attention to someone

Applying these will improve your ability to pay attention to what somebody else is saying. This will not only make them feel interesting and valued but will also make them feel important. This is the first step in getting people to a place where they want to speak to you. Sometimes to the extent that they will just keep finding new topics in order to keep the conversation with you going.

to become a good active listener you need to show that you're listening
Make sure your partner knows that you are engaged with them

Show that you are actively listening

This means bringing your body into the conversation but also highlights the ability to use empathy and understanding to further unlock the potential for conversation from your partner.

How to show you’re actively listening:

These little affirmations are not a reply or feedback just yet, more like little confirmations to your partner that you are engaged in what they are saying while encouraging them to keep talking. There are few people who don’t love the sound of their own voice!

Active listeners allow other peoples words to echo and ripple through them
The movements we make ripple through people

Provide feedback

We’ve already brought our body into the mix, but now it’s time to add the mind as well. When we take on the role of an active listener, we need to stop ourselves from interjecting. You need to allow the listener’s words to echo through you before engaging.

When it is time for you to start engaging you can use mirroring or reflecting as a tool to further the echo and show the person that you understand them. Asking questions like

These are fantastic tools for active listeners, as we said before, they just love the sound of their own voices. You can follow up your mirroring with questions that further shine the spotlight on them and allow them to talk about whichever field they feel confident in :

  • What do you mean when you say X?
  • Is this what you mean?

To them, it reaffirms that you’re listening, but also that you understand the message they are trying to relay, which strokes their ego. Just remember that to be a good active listener you have to be in control of your emotions, it’s not always bad to show it, just in the right ways :

This will allow them to clarify what they meant while providing an opportunity for you to revisit your perspective and help you in achieving the goals you’ve laid out for the interaction.

So be selective

An active listener doesn't judge
Take your time, weigh your replies carefully

Defer Judgement

Communication is not what you say, but what the other person takes away, and when you are engaging in conversation with somebody with the purpose of being a good listener, interrupting becomes a waste of time. Not only this, but it will frustrate the speaker and limit the full understanding of the message. Using the examples mentioned in the previous sections at the appropriate time will be much more impactful and lead to better results than interjecting with the first counter-argument that springs to mind.

Allow the speaker to finish, if you do this right, not only will you also have a turn, but you will have your partner more open to your suggestions and ideas. Being an active listener pays off in more ways than you may initially expect.

To be a good active listener you need to hit your mark
Hit the mark with your answers

It’s the mindset that lets you respond appropriately

Be candid, open, and honest. If you want to become a good active listener and a communicator worth your salt, it needs to be understood that the application of this model is one set in respect and understanding. You are gaining information, but also the perspective from another person, and moving too aggressively by attacking the speaker or putting them down will only do the opposite of what you’re setting out to do by implementing this tool.

People very much want to be treated with respect. You will find that if you apply this practice correctly your conversation partners will react warmly and allow you to bypass many of the natural barriers people construct around themselves when dealing with other people. This is a practice that will unlock many doors for you, the type that will lead to compounding results and wonderful opportunities!

Becoming an active listener is only the first step! Be sure to check out our communications library, and our post series on setting and achieving goals!

Happy Listening!

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