Remember Aunty Rose who doesn’t stop talking? Or Uncle Jack who loves to tell funny stories? How many times have you heard the story about….?A Good Listener is Like a Good Dancer
A good dancer works with their partner, making the moves seem seamless. It is a skill that takes time to develop as anyone who has watched Strictly Come Dancing will know.
Active listening is also skill which takes time and effort to develop. It is not passive and takes commitment from the listener. Active listing shows that you value what the other person has to say and can encourage other people to talk.Active listeners have freed their minds and made a commitment to absorb what the other person has to say so that they can respond appropriately. They do not make assumptions about what the other person is going to say – and therefore allow them to finish their sentence.
· Show interest
· Request information
· Obtain understanding
Here are the five rules to active listening
· Pay attention.
o Give the speaker your undivided attention and acknowledge the message. Recognize that what is not said also speaks loudly.
o Look at the speaker directly.
o Put aside distracting thoughts. Don’t mentally prepare a rebuttal!
o Avoid being distracted by environmental factors.
o “Listen” to the speaker’s body language.
o Refrain from side conversations when listening in a group setting.
· Show that you are listening.
o Use your own body language and gestures to convey your attention.
o Nod occasionally.
o Smile and use other facial expressions.
o Note your posture and make sure it is open and inviting.
o Encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal comments like yes, and uh huh.
· Provide feedback.
o Our personal filters, assumptions, judgments, and beliefs can distort what we hear. As a listener, your role is to understand what is being said. This may require you to reflect what is being said and ask questions.
o Reflect what has been said by paraphrasing. “What I’m hearing is…” and “Sounds like you are saying…” are great ways to reflect back.
o Ask questions to clarify certain points. “What do you mean when you say…” “Is this what you mean?”
o Summarize the speaker’s comments periodically.
· Defer judgment.
o Interrupting is a waste of time. It frustrates the speaker and limits full understanding of the message.
o Allow the speaker to finish.
o Don’t interrupt with counter arguments.
· Respond Appropriately.
o Active listening is a model for respect and understanding. You are gaining information and perspective. You add nothing by attacking the speaker or otherwise putting him or her down.
o Be candid, open, and honest in your response.
o Assert your opinions respectfully.
o Treat the other person as he or she would want to be treated.
Active listening is just one aspect of good communication skills. The more you practice the better you will get at it.