With so much happening at such a quick pace in today’s world, effective communication feels more essential than ever. The ability to listen is a crucial element toward understanding others, building relationships, and solving problems. Keep reading to explore ways in which active listening can create positive communication and help you develop more purposeful connections.
What is Active Listening?
Active listening is a soft skill in which you focus attention outside of yourself to wholly recognize and appreciate the needs of the speaker. That person may be a partner, friend, family member, or co-worker.
The process includes fully concentrating on what is said as well as noticing the speaker’s nonverbals, such as body language, vocal inflection, or facial expressions. Identifying these behaviors allows you to better comprehend and perceive the speaker’s experience so that you may respond with empathy and kindness.
Active Listening Aspects
Through active listening, all your senses come into play and you extend your full attention to the speaker. As a listener, you maintain a focused and engaged conversation in which you:
- Remain neutral, keeping an open mind and heart
- Are patient, even during moments of silence
- Offer signs of acknowledgement through eye contact, leaning in, or nodding
- Ask questions to confirm or clarify what is said
- Contemplate the words you hear
- Review aloud the speaker’s words to confirm what was said and the feelings behind it
Together, these reserved actions will help you develop a deeper comprehension of what the speaker is expressing. This shared encounter advocates positive communication that will bring you emotionally and spiritually closer to an awareness and understanding of those around you.
Tips for Active Listening
Active listening builds trust and helps you realize the experiences of others through their words and actions. Throughout the process, the listener refrains from offering advice and instead simply listens. The speaker feels validation in knowing their message is heard and often can come up with ways to resolve any troublesome issues.
Learn to become a better active listener with this simple exercise:
- Face the speaker and maintain natural eye contact while he or she is talking.
- Clear your mind and listen intently without interruption or distraction.
- Pay attention to nonverbal cues that could indicate another meaning to what is said.
- Wait for a pause and then summarize the speaker’s words to ensure your understanding.
- Ask clarifying, open-ended questions to encourage the speaker to continue.
- Acknowledge and verify the speaker’s points and feelings.
Using this method is effective in many environments and social contexts as it helps you better understand the overall message. When you give full attention to both the verbal and nonverbal, you absorb the words with your mind and the feeling with your heart. Practice these skills to become a better listener and promote positive communication in your relationships at home, at work, or within your social circle.
To discover more about active listening and communication techniques to enhance your interpersonal capabilities, contact Laurie Grengs Counseling. We are here to help you build and strengthen relationships to bring joy and fulfillment to your life and to others.