Active listening is an important life skill. Your listening skills can impact many aspects of your life, including how well you do your job or the quality of your personal relationships. If you’re serious about maximizing your success, you have to be serious about becoming a strong communicator. Although good communication skills include sharing ideas through speaking or writing, listening is a key essential component of good communication.

Here are some techniques you can use to become an active listener:

1. Be attentive. Give the speaker your undivided attention. Turn your body towards them and maintain eye contact. In addition to listening to the words being spoken, please pay attention to what is said through nonverbal communication, like body language and gestures, to understand their message.

• To pay full attention, you must put aside any distracting thoughts. Don’t use the speaker’s turn to prepare your response. If you’re thinking of what you’ll say next, you’re likely to miss what’s being said now.

2. Give the speaker cues to show that you’re listening. Confirm that you’re listening by using visual cues through gestures and body language.

• A quick and easy way to communicate that you’re paying attention is to make frequent eye contact and nod when appropriate. This action shows your agreement and clarifies that you’re engaged in what the speaker’s saying.
• Smiling, laughing and other appropriate expressions are clear responses that will let a person know you are hearing what’s being said.

3. Respond to their message. Maintain a welcoming, open posture to show you’re receptive to what the speaker has to say. This might include facing the speaker, leaning toward them, and staying alert. Short interjections like “uh-huh” or “yes” encourage them to tell you more.

• To make it clear that you’re actively engaged in a conversation, periodically summarize what has been said. Paraphrasing can be particularly useful when someone is sharing personal feelings with you. This way, you can be sure that you have a clear understanding.

• Ask questions to clarify points you don’t understand.

4. Avoid interrupting. Always be sure to allow the speaker to complete his thoughts. Interrupting someone is both rude and disconcerting. It also prevents you from hearing the whole message.

• When the speaker is finished, respond accordingly and appropriately, offering your ideas and opinions in response to what he said. While you may not always agree with others, you must still be respectful.

5. Concentrate on what the speaker is saying. If you’re not accustomed to focusing intently on the words being spoken, it may take some time to change your habits. As with anything, the more you practice, the better you’ll become.

• Repeat the speaker’s words in your mind to help your mind focus on the meaning and prevent it from drifting off. You’ll be surprised at how differently you’ll hear things as an active listener. If you follow these tips, you’ll not only become an active listener but a better communicator as well.

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Simple Active Listening Techniques Anyone Can Use

Being heard and understood is a need for every member of the human family. We all want to know the people in our lives care about us. Having someone listen and respond to your needs can help you feel important.

Conversely, you give others a boost when you listen carefully to them. This is where active listening techniques become essential.

Maybe you haven’t heard of active listening before. It’s listening with the intent of understanding the full meaning of what’s being said. You do this by allowing the person to speak without interruption, and then you repeat back what they said. The goal of active listening is to improve understanding between both parties. You may not believe it, but there’s more to listening than merely being quiet.

Someone who’s an active listener will encourage the speaker to talk, try to clarify any points they don’t understand and be sure they’re aware of the speaker’s intent. An active listener will enable the speaker to feel like they’ve honestly been heard and understood.Before you begin a conversation, especially if the subject matter is essential, be sure you’re in a location where you won’t be interrupted by noise or distractions. This sets the stage for a meaningful conversation. Here are some active listening techniques you can use to improve your communications:

1. Be attentive. Pay attention to the person speaking with you. Stay focused on what they’re saying without trying to anticipate what they’re going to say next. Stay in the moment.

2. Respect the speaker. Even if you think you know what they’re going to say, try to listen to what’s being said.

• Pay attention to both verbal and nonverbal clues. Body language, facial expressions, and posture can all provide a detailed picture of what’s going on.

3. Keep your attitude in check. Avoid confrontation or anger. You’re not trying to win an argument; you’re trying to understand the person with whom you’re speaking.

4. Avoid letting your personal preferences affect how you listen. Try to keep your personal beliefs from clouding the speaker’s statements.