Listening to speak or pretending to concentrate on all that is being said is not a form of active listening. Nor do you have to be in agreement with what the other person is saying. Giving the person speaking your full attention is crucial for any successful conversation. Some tips and key features of actively listening are as follows, according to our sources:
- Being neutral and nonjudgmental
- Practicing patience in periods of silence, being fast to listen and slow to speak
Verbally and non-verbally giving feedback to show signs of listening such as smiling and mirroring; also picking up on nonverbal cues that tell more than the words that are being said
• Asking open-ended questions and for clarifications, avoiding subject changes and simple yes or no questions that typically end a conversation and show you aren't listening
• Reflecting back and paraphrasing what is said rather than giving advice to show the person that they are heard
• Staying out of your own head, avoiding daydreams and your internal dialogue in a conversation
• Learning from examples of active listening practices and picking up on mistakes
Actively listening can improve your life in several ways. In your relationships, it not only validates your partner and make them feel understood, but it helps you to empathize and understand their point of view before jumping to any wrong conclusions. Whether you're conversating with a colleague or customer, practicing this technique is said to better equip you to understand problems and collaborate when developing solutions. Even as you meet new people, applying the strategies above will help you learn more about a person than you would only talking about yourself.
If you notice yourself speaking to a person who isn't being an active listener, you can encourage them by finding a topic that you both would like to discuss.
Sources: Very Well Mind