What did you say? - The Importance of being an active listener

Tools to increase your active listening skills.

We may have heard family members, friends, or co-workers make comments such as, “Why aren’t you listening?” “Sorry, I missed that comment I just wasn’t listening”, or “Did you hear what I said?”

The act of listening can be difficult because we are thinking about all the other things that we have to do at home, for work, or school, that we are not focusing on the person in front of us. When we are engaged in a conversation we ought to be listening to what the person is saying, but may instead be thinking about our own response. According to the book, Listen Up: Hear What’s Really Being Said – Improve Your Career and Your Life by Becoming a Better Listener written by Jim Digger, there are 10 areas that a person could practice to enhance their active listening skills. The first step is to understand why it is important to become a better listener. Please take a moment to reflect on why you think it would be important to be an active listener. He outlines reasons below including:

  • Improve communication.
  • Lessen arguments.
  • Show you care.
  • Better understand your world.
  • Improve your memory.

To become a more active listener one must be prepared to:

  • Demonstrate empathy for the speaker.
  • Be prepared to listen.
  • Understand nonverbal communication and how it affects your perception of what is being said.
  • Be nonjudgmental of the speaker.

Once you feel more prepared to work on your active listening, listed below are five activities to being your journey:

  • Listen to content - Listen for facts and ideas.
  • Listen to intent - Listen to the emotional meaning of the speaker. Try to “hear” the underlying message.
  • Assess the speaker’s nonverbal communication - Try to read and interpret what the speaker is “saying” with body language and nonverbal cues.
  • Monitor your nonverbal communication and emotional filters - Be mindful of the messages that you are conveying through your nonverbal communication such as crossed arms, tone of voice or scowling face.
  • Listen to the speaker nonjudgmentally and with empathy - Think about it from their perspective and try to understand where they are coming from. Listen without judgement.

Now that you have a few additional tools to include in your active listening tool belt take some time today to practice and enjoy the new ideas and perspectives around you.

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