We all go through our daily lives engaging in many conversations with friends, co-workers, and our family members. But most of the time, we don’t listen as well as we could or sometimes should. We’re often distracted by other things in the environment, such as the television, the Internet, our cell phones, or something else. We think we’re listening to the other person, but we’re really not giving them our full attention.
Enter a skill called “active listening.” Active listening is all about building rapport, understanding, and trust. By learning the skills below, you will become a better listener and actually hear what the other person is saying — not just what you think they are saying or what you want to hear. While therapists are often made fun of for engaging in active listening, it is a proven psychological technique that helps people talk. It also helps a person feel free to continue talking even if the person they are talking to doesn’t have a lot to offer the other person (other than their ear).
Are you as good a listener as you think you are?
13 Steps to Better Active Listening Skills
Below you will find 13 different skills that help people be better active listeners. You do not have to become adept at each of these skills to be a good active listener, but the more you do, the better you’ll be. If you even just use 3 or 4 of these skills, you will find yourself listening and hearing more of what another person is saying to you.
To show you are listening, repeat every so often what you think the person said — not by parroting, but by paraphrasing what you heard in your own words. For example, “Let’s see if I’m clear about this. . .”
Bring together the facts and pieces of the problem to check understanding — for example, “So it sounds to me as if . . .” Or, “Is that it?”