How to Become an Active Listener

Techniques to Be an Effective Active Listener

  1. Preparation
  • Remove yourself from outside distractions
  • Clear your mind from inner dialogue/thoughts
  • Refrain from mentally preparing what you need to say
  • Have the interest to want to understand
  • Have curiosity about other people’s thoughts
  • Find importance in what people have to say
  • Position your body to face the speaker
  • Use eye contact
  • Open body language (uncrossed arms)
  • Nod occasionally
  • Smile and use positive facial expressions
  • Mirror back facial expressions or body positioning of the speaker
  • Ask open-ended questions (who, what, where, when, why, and how…?)
  • Occasionally use short phrases to reassure the speaker that you are listening (things like “mhm”, “yup”, or “okay”)
  • Reflect what was said by paraphrasing your responses with “It sounds like…” or “It seems like…”
  • Summarize periodically to clarify what the speaker said.
  • Ask questions like “What do you mean when you say…?” to clarify what was said.
  • Remember key points or ideas to expand upon later
  • Give the speaker your full attention and try not to talk over them
  • Be aware of your own body language
  • Be aware of when to be the speaker or active listener
  • Refrain from expressing your own opinion until the speaker feels fully understood
  • Don’t try to prove a point
  • Pay attention to negative changes in the nonverbal expression of the speaker
  • Allow the other person to finish their thoughts fully
  • Focus more on understanding the complete thought and not the specific words used.

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