Active listening is about paying attention. Active listening is about concentration and observation.
It happens very often that we lose focus and attention while making a conversation. We listen but we don’t actively listen.
That creates certain problems in our life.
- We fail to understand the subject matter.
- The person with who we are making conversation feels unheard and demeaning.
- We cut a sorry figure and earn a bad name.
- Poor listening stops our progress as we don’t understand things better.
- Poor listening does not make us understand the person properly.
- Poor listening is one of the reasons for strained relationships.
- It works as a barrier to our personal and professional life.
We all face these problems in our life. Sometimes we face it as a talk giver and sometimes we lose threads of conversation as a talk receiver. Both situations are bad for our growth.
Active listening has the ability and potential to solve all such problems. That is why it is very important to learn the art of active listening.
Broadly speaking there are five big techniques. If we learn and apply these techniques properly in our life then our personal, professional, and relational understanding would improve manyfold.
Active listening techniques
- Being mentally present while listening and paying attention
- Showing your attention through postures and hemming
- Giving a response to the speaker
- Judging only after listening
- Reflecting & sharing that you understand
These techniques are powerful. To gain mastery of them is easy.
Being mentally present while listening and paying attention
When you are listening and not paying attention then neither you connect with the speaker nor with the subject matter.
The speaker loses interest in the conversation and feels not heard properly.
When you are listening but prompting midway without letting the speaker finish his statements, is again an indication of poor listening.
Pay attention to your body language as well as your frame of mind. Be focused on the moment, and operate from a place of respect as the listener.
Active listening requires focus and willingness.
If the topic or speaker is not appealing you then leave the talk midway but don’t continue only to show that you are present.
Whether we are in colleges, offices, homes, or at business meetings, our minds very often start wandering and we miss the thread of conversation.
Sometimes because of it, we become a laughing stock or a point of mockery.
Because of our not so active listening habit, people very often brand us as ‘lost’ in offices and ‘careless’ at homes.
Active listening makes us smart. When we are not actively listening we become vulnerable.
Showing your attention through postures and hemming
Active listening is also visible through your gestures and postures. This is important that you show your attention and interest in the conversation.
This makes the conversation deep and engrossing. There are a few signals which display your active listening.
- Your facial expressions– Your smile, eye contacts, twitching of lips, countenance, are all being read by the speaker.
- Your facial movements affect the level of conversation.
- Your posture– How you are moving in your seat, or your standing and curling positions also show your interest and disinterest in the conversation.
- Mirroring– This is tricky. Every good communicator, speaker, and negotiator knows about it. Mirroring simply means that your reflections are like the reflections of your speaker.
- Automatic mirroring of any facial expressions used by the speaker can be a sign of active listening. These reflective expressions can help to show compassion and understanding in more moving situations.
- Distractions- When you are an active listener then you are not indulged in distractive things like fidgeting and doodling.
- When you interrupt the speaker by an untimely question or out of the topic question then again the conversation derails.
Giving a response to the speaker
Active listening shows that you are understanding the subject, gaining the information, and perspective of the matter.
When you are questioning or discussing after full assimilation of the matter then it proves that you are a good listener and, every good listener is also a good thinker.
The speaker feels respected and satisfied. The speaker also opens up for deeper conversation.
This point is very obvious in any classroom or meeting room. When the listeners are responsive the speaker is more energetic and active.
Your body language is also a part of your response. When you nod occasionally then it transfers the message across to the speaker that you are involved in the conversation.
Encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal comments like yes, and “uh and huh.”
Active listening- 4
Judging only after listening
Very often not following this creates a barrier in understanding and responding.
Don’t judge the speaker before he is finished. This irritates the speaker and breaks the conversation. Don’t guess that the speaker is going to tell this and you already know it.
Always remember that someone can say something which you do not know. Active listening is for your growth and success.
When you listen to reply then your perspective is different but when you listen to understand then your perspective is different.
Listen to the full length of a conversation and then only respond and question to the speaker. This is not only good for your improvement but this is also a listening manner.
Active listening- 5
Reflecting and sharing that you understand
Reflecting and sharing is for understanding and disseminating the subject matter. Reflection also helps us in repeating or paraphrasing what the speaker has said to show comprehension.
It does not only demonstrate the standard of the speaker but also tells about the standard of the listener.
How active listening improves you
When you follow active listening techniques then it brings certain positive changes in you.
Those changes help you become more comprehensive and deep.
Those changes make your personality different. You become an authority because of a better understanding.
When you stick to the active listening techniques then you find many improvements in your life, like
- Your concentration span improves.
- You win over minimizing your distractions.
- You sincerely listen to the conversation.
- You are okay with silence.
- You collect your thoughts properly.
- You become a better learner.
- Better learning improves your gravity and expression power.
- You grow your knowledge by active listening.
- Better knowledge gives you more freedom and more choices in life.
- Combinedly these improvements overall improve our personal, professional, and relational skills.
These are the benefits of active listening. By including only one trait of active listening in your life you grow your multiple other faculties. Such is the dominance of active listening in our life. Such is the beauty of active listening habits.