Have you ever talked with someone and after the conversation you walked away feeling that they didn’t really understand the gist of what you were saying, or that they just didn’t get it? Chances are the other person heard you speaking, but nothing more, the other person was listening – simply not actively listening. When you feel like you’ve been heard and understood you’ll walk away feeling better, just knowing that someone listened, heard you and cared.
Active listening is an active process. Not only does active listening give attention to the speaker it also show the verbal and non-verbal signs at the same time to let people know you are really digesting what he/she is saying. The goal of active listening is to understand the feelings and views of the person.
It is also essential to convey respect and acceptance and to withhold judgement. All people need to feel understood and accepted and to know that others care about them.
When listening to another person actively, good eye contact is necessary to convey engagement. If one is truly listening, with the intent of understanding and conveying empathy, then good eye contact should take place naturally and without effort.
How active listening skills make you look much smarter
When you’re actively listening, you’ll make constant feedback. This would make your colleagues and others around you think that you’re smart enough to give immediate response and contributing a lot.
How active listening skills make you a charismatic person
“The irony of being a good conversationalist is that talking isn’t the most important piece; listening is what makes you memorable.”
The essence of being a good communicator is the role you play in listening, not talking. Imagine for a moment that you came to a friend and talked about an issue that’s troubling you. What you are seeking is a pair of empathetic ears, and an embracing heart. You are not really trying to ask another person to solve your problem, you just want your friend to listen and understand. Active listening enables you to listen so to better understand the person’s situation by detecting his/her emotional changes, the way he/she speaks, so you can think clearly and make thoughtful comments.
Here’re some useful ways to become a more active listener!
Active listening skills: verbal signs
Paraphrase and make a brief summary
After listening, you can make a short response by briefly summarising the content. When you paraphrase, it can also help you understand what the conversation really means by having you present the same thing in a different way. Meanwhile, your speaker can also get a chance to clarify when he/she finds something is misunderstood.
Ask questions to show your interest or to clarify
By raising questions, your speaker will think that they are being given attention to and that you are really listening to them.
Active listening skills: non verbal signs
Make appropriate eye contact
Having eye contact with your speaker is natural and encouraging to the speaker. It shows that you are really listening and trying to understand the content.
However pay attention to your way of looking at others, make sure it is gentle, not too firm and intimidating. Also, be aware of the duration of each eye contact because shy speakers may find themselves feeling embarrassed.
Keep your posture open and welcoming
An open and welcoming gesture can really help the speaker to communicate better. For example, by leaning forward, resting your head on one of your hands can show that you are actively listening and welcome the speaker to speak more!
Nod and smile
Nodding and smiling while you listen are also very positive and affirming signs to the speaker. You show that you are agreeing with what he/she said and everyone loves being agreed on. Also, you show that you like the content as well.