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Active Listening Skills: Definition, Examples, and Techniques to Improve for Better Communication

It goes without saying that communication skills are a must, no matter which company you are working for or what your role is. Effective communication is not restricted only to your career aspirations. In your regular life, you need to be communicative, too. 

And a massive part of being communicative is listening skills. It is vital as it allows you to be engaged with the person you are conversing with. From short answers to body language, there are many aspects of active listening. In this blog, we will take a look at everything you need to know about active listening.

What is Active Listening?

Active listening is basically a communication skill that concerns going beyond just listening to the words that the person in front of you is speaking. It is regarding actively seeking and processing to comprehend the meaning behind them. Listening definition is quite easy. It requires being an aware and focused participant in the communication process.

Difference between hearing and listening

HearingListening
InvoluntaryVoluntary
ActivePassive
Physiological perception of soundIntentional interpretation of sound
Requires no effortRequires effort

Key components of active listening

Now that you know what is active listening, here are some of the key components of it:

  1. Paying attention: It concerns giving the speaker your full and undivided attention when they are speaking. From maintaining eye contact to body movement, you need to make sure that the speaker feels heard.
  2. Comprehending: It is not only about listening to them speaking; you are required to understand the meaning as well.
  3. Responding: Active listening is not only concerned with listening. You are required to respond as well.
  4. Remembering: Lastly, remembering and recalling facts are crucial when it comes to listening skills.

Benefits of Active Listening

Effective listening is a must these days. And there are quite a few benefits that come with active listening skills: 

1. Improved communication and understanding

With better listening skills by your side, you will be able to communicate better with the person ahead of you. And with your focus shifted towards the person speaking, you will be able to understand better, which will lead to a meaningful conversation.

2. Stronger relationships and trust

Listening in communication allows others to feel more heard and comfortable sharing information with you. When you showcase your ability and give the person in front of you your undivided attention, they will be eager to speak to you.

3. Enhanced problem-solving and decision-making

Good listening skills are non-negotiable. With listening skills in communication, you will be able to better understand problems and hurdles in a project and solve them.

4. Increased empathy and emotional intelligence

In addition to all these, active listening skills may improve your empathy and emotional intelligence as well. As people build the belief that they can speak to you, they will be able to trust you more and be eager for the next conversation.

Examples of Active Listening in Different Contexts

Here are some of the examples of active listening skills in various contexts:

Personal relationships

Here is an active listening skill example when you are addressing your friend on their concern who has been stressed by work:

It seems like you are going through a rough time at work. It might feel very overwhelming because of the constant pressure. Can you tell me more about what is going on?”

Take a look at this example of listening skills when addressing a partner who feels their efforts go unnoticed:

I hear you. I understand you feel the efforts you are putting are going unnoticed. Would you please give me some examples of the things you did but I did not notice?”

Professional settings

Here are a good listening skills demonstration while addressing a customer concern:

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I understand how frustrating the situation can be. Could you tell me more about the issue you are experiencing?”

Check out a demonstration of listening skills for a team meeting:

I understand the point you are trying to put forward. You are trying to say that we are required to increase our online presence. Is that right?”

Educational environments

Here is a good example of good listening skills for educational environments:

“I understand the point you are trying to put forward. You are trying to say that we are required to redirect our concern to climate changes. Can you elaborate on this pressing concern?”

Check out this demonstration of good listening skills for receiving feedback from teachers:

I highly appreciate your feedback. It seems like you want me to take more time with my assignments before submitting them, is that right?”

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Techniques to Improve Active Listening Skills

You already know what listening is in communication. Let us take a look at the tactics to improve active listening skills.

1. Minimize distractions

Good listening skills come when you put importance on listening. In order to do this, you need to get rid of anything and everything that can distract you easily. You are required to be present with the person you are sitting with. For starters, you may try a quiet space to have important conversations with someone.

2. Use nonverbal cues to show engagement

Body language is one of the most important factors in listening skills. Have an open body language. It is of utmost importance that you maintain eye contact and use facial gestures and expressions in accordance with the conversation.

3. Practice paraphrasing and reflection

Empathizing is key to good listening skills, and paraphrasing is the key to showing your empathy to the person you are listening to. 

4. Ask clarifying questions

Good listening skills are not only about listening; proceed to ask any clarifying question if you need to.

5. Avoid interrupting or rushing to judgment

Think thoroughly before you answer. Understand what the speaker is trying to say or convey. Take your time before formulating your answer appropriately if required.

6. Provide meaningful feedback

Providing feedback is also a key to good listening skills. The key here is to not rush with your answer. Make sure you take the time to understand if even an answer is required.

Overcoming Barriers to Active Listening

Here are some of the ways you may overcome the hurdles of active listening skills:

1. Identifying and addressing personal biases

You are required to acknowledge that everyone has biases, and they always address and challenge them. You need to engage in self-reflection to address personal biases.

2. Managing emotional reactivity

You need to indulge yourself in practicing mindfulness techniques to manage your emotions while conversing with someone. Self-awareness is the key to enhancing your emotional intelligence.

3. Dealing with environmental or cultural differences

Proceed to adapt to various communication environments by adjusting the approaches of listening accordingly. Be patient and understanding of the cultural differences.

4. Balancing listening and speaking in conversations

While good listening skills are not only about listening, you need to have a balance between listening and speaking.

Practicing Active Listening in Specific Situations

Good listening skills are one of the best traits to have by your side. Here are some of the best scenarios where you may practice active listening;

1. Conflict resolution

Here are some of the examples:

“It sounds like you’re feeling frustrated about the project deadline. Can you tell me more about what’s causing the issue?”

“If I understand correctly, your main concern is the lack of communication from our team. Is that accurate?”

“What do you think would be the best approach to resolve this conflict?”

“I hear that you’re feeling upset. I want to understand your perspective better so we can find a solution together.”

2. Giving and receiving feedback

Here are some of the examples:

“So, what I’m hearing is that you felt my presentation lacked detail. Is that correct?”

“When you mentioned that my report was unclear, were there specific sections you found confusing?”

“I appreciate your feedback on my performance. I’ll make sure to take it into account and work on improving in those areas.”

“Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I value your input, and I’ll use it constructively to grow professionally.”

3. Empathetic listening in emotional situations

 “It sounds like you’re feeling overwhelmed by the recent events. I’m here for you if you need to talk.”

 “I can’t imagine how difficult this must be for you. Is there anything I can do to help?”

 “It’s completely understandable to feel scared in this situation. Your feelings are valid, and I’m here to support you.”

 “I’m here to listen whenever you’re ready to talk. Take your time, and I’ll do my best to support you through this.”

Conclusion

Active listening skills go a long way for betterment. It is one of the best skills to have by your side, not just professionally but also for personal reasons.

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FAQ on Active Listening Skills

Q1. How do you pay attention to someone speaking?

A1. In order to give your undivided attention, you need to get rid of everything that may distract you.

Q2. Is active listening a good skill?

A2. Yes, active listening is arguably one of the best skills to have by your side.

Q3. Is it okay to ask something when someone is speaking?

A3. While it is perfectly okay to ask clarifying questions, you need to let them finish speaking first.

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