Practical Tips for Active Listening

By practicing active listening, you not only engage and demonstrate care for others, but you also gain a deeper understanding of their perspectives. This skill is beneficial in various contexts, such as interviews, negotiations, and building stronger personal and professional relationships. So, the next time you engage in a conversation, remember to ask open-ended questions, listen attentively, use verbal and non-verbal cues, seek clarification, and embrace the power of pauses.

Josh Ether

3/5/20211 min read

Active listening is a powerful skill that goes beyond simply hearing what someone is saying. It involves demonstrating genuine interest and concern for the other person, building strong relationships, and even influencing emotions. Here are some practical tips to enhance your active listening abilities and make meaningful connections:

  1. Ask open-ended questions: Instead of seeking simple yes or no answers, ask broader questions that encourage the speaker to provide more information. For example, instead of asking, "Did that happen?" try asking, "What happened?" or "When did it happen?" This prompts the speaker to expand on their response and share additional details.

  2. Listen more, speak less: It's common to feel the urge to share our own thoughts and ideas, but active listening requires us to focus on the speaker. Avoid interrupting or dominating the conversation. By actively listening and understanding the other person's needs, you can better align your ideas and responses with their perspective.

  3. Use verbal and non-verbal cues: Show your engagement through verbal cues like nodding, using minimal encouragers such as "uh-huh," "right," or "I see." These responses let the speaker know that you are attentive and interested in what they are saying. Additionally, mirroring their words or summarizing the main points they've expressed demonstrates your investment in the conversation.

  4. Seek clarification: After summarizing what the speaker has shared, seek clarification to ensure you understand their perspective accurately. You can say something like, "Let me make sure I understand correctly. The depreciation values from last year are known, but the current values are missing. Is that right?" This shows that you value their input and encourages them to provide more clarity if needed.

  5. Embrace pauses: Leaving intentional pauses in the conversation can be uncomfortable but can also lead to valuable insights. When you allow silence, it creates space for the speaker to gather their thoughts and share information they might have been hesitant to reveal. Avoid the temptation to fill every silence and instead give the speaker time to reflect and provide more meaningful responses.