Table of Contents
Are you an active listener? Do you know how important active listening is?
What is your understanding of active listening?
Do you know the perks of being an active listener?
If not, read more about active listening, its definition, skills, and examples here.
Active listening is an important activity where an individual receives information from another individual or a group. Active listening is voluntary. Active listening invites the attention of the sender and the receiver. It includes paying more attention to the conversation without distractions. Interrupting conversations cannot be considered under the category of active listening.
Active listening invites the attention of the listener. You should be in a position to understand what the other person is trying to communicate. In short, active listening involves the complete attention of the listener. The speaker and the listener, both groups should be involved in the conversation.
Active listening never involves interruption. You have to reply to the listener after detailed consideration. When you are actively listening to a person you could observe the body movements and other gestures connected with it. This way the listener can draw more information and clarity in understanding the matter.
Active listening is a skill that employees should develop while attending meetings or any gatherings related to the work. An employee can act accordingly if he/she is an active listener.
If you want to decipher the real meaning of what people try to convey you need to cultivate the habit of active listening. During job interviews, active listening is a boon. The active listener would give out the impression that they are truly interested in the company and work culture. It can also help the employer to build a positive outlook on the employee. Learn to become an active listener!
Listening vs. hearing
Hearing is an incidental and mechanical brain’s reaction to sound that needs zero effort. As human beings in a developing country, we are always filled with noises and voices around us. We hear the sound, but we are not concentrating. We ignore such sounds. It is an involuntary action that is an effortless task.
On the other hand, Listening is intended and concentrated rather than random. As a result, it demands stimulus and action. Listening is engaged, concentrated, focused engagement for understanding the real meaning that the speaker wishes to communicate.
Listening is a voluntary act where the listener should pay keen attention to the speaker’s message. Not only listening involves direct involvement but also patience to give space and time to the speaker. In other words, while listening to a person, the listener concentrates both on verbal and non-verbal statements. Your capability to attend relies on the capacity to which you sense and apprehend these directives.
Do you know the difference between active and passive listening? Active listening is the conscious effort while passing listening is effortless. Active listening is voluntary while passive listening is involuntary. Active listening is a focused act whereas passive listening is a passive act.
Active Listening – Definition
Active listening is a soft skill. A new world is prone to being a techie world where conversations are minimum. Communication is the most important and powerful tool that helps individuals to build strong bonds with each other. It’s better to listen to people. But as people are busy as bees, they seldom find time to communicate with each other. Heartwarming, genuine conversations are comparatively rare nowadays.
If you are an active listener, it can directly or indirectly help you to build a strong relationship, rectify mistakes, solve issues, and create an understanding environment to avoid problems. The workspace productivity can also be improved once you become an active listener.
An active listener can only become a powerful team leader. An active listener can lead an entire team to productivity. An active listener would never fall for traps, they would be conscious about happenings around them. Instead of passively listening to the speaker, active listening seeks your attention and effort.
An active listening activity can improve your memory power. Hearing and understanding the entire message that the speaker wishes to convey is not a silly thing.
Listening is the most basic element of communication. To improve your communication skills, you need to mold yourself into an active listener. Listening is an active process. It involves your direct involvement. Listening helps people to understand each other. You should pay more attention and conscious efforts to comprehend the message that the speaker tries to communicate.
An active listener should be patient and kind. An active listener should never try to interrupt the flow of words and emotions by any means. It is better if you avoid distractions and unnecessary questions while the speaker is on the subject. Giving other person time and space is the key component of active listening. An active listener will never act muddle-headed. Active listening allows the speaker to explore the possibility of exposing true emotions and feelings.
Benefits of Active Listening
Active listening has its benefits. Let’s look into the importance of active listening below.
Active listening helps widen your perspective
Your perspective of life is not vast. But once you start actively listening to people around you, you will develop the habit of exploring yourself. The way you understand the world is based on your limited life experiences. Active listening to other people will broaden your perspective on life. It can change your notions about the world. Active listening paves way for creating a better outlook on life from various perspectives.
Building strong bonds
Active listening can build strong bonds as it is based on communication. The communication will open up a space for two or more individuals to directly involve in understanding each other. If you can constrain yourself from being rude and judgmental, you can easily form a trustworthy strong bond with people. This bond between people especially in the working environment will direct you to productivity.
Improve your patience
An active listener takes ample time to listen to the speaker. It takes a great deal of effort from the part of the listener. The listener should improve their listening abilities with a patient outlook. As active listening is a conscious effort, it can cost your effort and tests your patience.
It is patience that allows the other person time and space to explore their ideas, thoughts, and emotions. Never be judgmental while you listen to people. When you become judgmental, they will automatically stop conversing with you. Give time to the speaker to complete their flow of ideas.
Helps to improve problem-solving skills
Active listening can help you to solve problems and make you more reliable and approachable. As active listeners, they will be keen on things happening around them. Active listeners must be more attentive and careful.
They should attend to the needs of the employees in the workplace. Active listeners always spot errors and are very keen on resolving problems. The active listener can suggest improvements. Listening to people around you can help you improve the environment around you.
Active listening helps you to build deep trust
If you’re an active listener, people get a chance to trust you. Cultivate the habit of active listening. It can benefit you in different ways. Active listening provides space for people to open up. If you hesitate to be judgmental in conversations, you can succeed in establishing a strong relationship based on trust. Based on superficial ideas, never jump to conclusions. This attitude may lead to a loss of trust in you. Listen actively to people to build deep trust.
Active listening help you make more approachable
People will feel a natural inclination to converse with you if you actively listen to them. This element makes you more approachable. The patient listener can understand the real emotions of a speaker. This helps the speaker and listener to have a cordial relationship with each other. It is the space an active listener provides to the speaker to make them free and more comfortable.
Enhance knowledge and competence
Active listening skills are the most desirable skills of many. Active listening skills make people more confident and engaging. It can improve the knowledge and ability of the listener. They can accomplish the tasks in no time. Listening can improve the quality of the listener. It can enrich the vistas of knowledge.
Active listening can help to save time
If you are an active listener, your active listening skills can help you to save from making mistakes and creating misunderstandings. It also can save you time and effort as you actively listen to the problems of those people around you. If you can communicate well with the employees around you, you can change the working environment of the company itself.
Active listeners vigorously attempt to comprehend other people’s conversations. Even if they try to communicate the clouded messages might be. Listening concerns not only the endeavor to interpret verbal messages that the speaker tries to communicate, but also to analyze non-verbal alerts which include the posture of the speaker and the facial expressions.
Active listeners always encourage the speaker to speak without hesitation and facilitate them to communicate their reflections and sentiments wholeheartedly.
How to Prove Yourself As an Active Listener?
The way you receive the ideas communicated by the speaker shows how good a listener you are. It involves your conscious effort in keeping and maintaining eye contact, nodding your head and smiling occasionally, and agreeing with a ‘Yes’. An active listener could provide genuine feedback through the reception techniques mentioned above. This attitude of the active listener makes the speaker more confident and helps them to feel comfortable. Such an approach will help the speaker to communicate freely and openly without any anxiety.
While talking to a person, if that person pays no attention to you, you will feel bad. Active listening can only prompt the speakers to continue the conversation. You should make sure that you are assuring the listener that you are actively listening to them. Asking the relevant questions, changing the body postures, maintaining eye contact with the speaker, etc. can help them to understand that you are listening to them actively.
Non-Verbal Signs of Active Listening
The non-verbal signs of active listening involve many gestures on the part of the listener. Here is the list of non-verbal signs of active listening which can help assure the speaker that you are actively listening to them.
- Pleasing occasional Smile
- Maintaining strong eye contact
- Maintaining the proper body posture
- Avoid interruptions and distraction
Verbal Signs of Active Listening
The verbal signs of active listening are listed below for the learners to get clarity about active listening skills.
- Positive Reinforcement and attentiveness can boost the energy of the speaker
- Memorize the key points discussed in the talk
- Ask the most relevant questions to the speaker
- Seek clarification from the speaker
If listening was an easy task, the speakers will not be put in difficult situations most of the time. As active listening requires energy and effort from individuals, it is a difficult task. Below given are the major listening styles that people can opt to prove their active listening skills.
The people-oriented listener is curious about the speaker. They attend to the statement to understand how the lecturer feels about a certain topic.
Action or task-oriented listeners
Action-oriented listeners are especially inquisitive in discovering what the speaker desires. It is difficult for an action-oriented speaker to attend through the characterizations, proof, and resolutions with which a speaker constructs.
Content-oriented listeners are curious about the message itself. They are more interested in the content. They are more investigative. Content-oriented listeners desire to attend to well-developed communication with concrete resolutions.
Time-oriented listeners choose a note that conveys the matter fast. Time-oriented listeners can evolve intolerant of sluggish delivery or long-winded descriptions. They can remain receptive for only a brief duration.
Active Listening – Examples
Here are the examples for improving your active listening skills.
- “I appreciate the time you’ve spent to talk to me”
- “What amends can we make to solve the situation?”
- “I was in a very similar situation a few years back.”
- “So, you wish to take actions immediately?”
Barriers to Active listening
Here is the list of barriers to active listening. Make sure to overcome the below-mentioned barriers to act more actively while conversing with people from next time onwards.
- Noise can be the biggest hindrance while you try active listening
- The finite length of the attention span of the listener can directly affect the active listening
- The judgemental and biased attitude of the listener can create a barrier to active listening
- The apprehension potential of the listener can also create a barrier to the listener’s focus.
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