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Active Listening--The Most Important Business Communication Skill

Updated on February 7, 2016

What is Active Listening?

Active listening is the a conscious effort to hear and understand the message that the speaker is attempting to convey. Active listening is the most important skill anyone can have when communicating with others. Everyone wants to be heard. Your job effectiveness and the quality of your relationships depend on active listening. Actively listening to others provides us with new information about the person with whom we are communicating. By actively listening, we learn and understand the needs of the person we are communicating with. We feel good about our interactions those interactions and in turn so does the other person.

18 Tips to Improve Active Listening

Our best communication occurs when we are able to give feedback that allows the other person to know that we were really listening to what that person was trying to say. Here are eighteen tips on how to improve your active listening skills.

1. Pay attention by giving the speaker your undivided attention. Your nonverbal communication speaks loudly.

2. Make direct eye contact with the speaker.

3. Don’t be distracted by side conversations

4. Observe the speaker's body language when you respond to he or she is saying. Sometimes what is loudest part of the conversation is not what is being said.

5. Do not allow yourself to become distracted. When giving your information, you must consider your audience.

6. Pay close attention to your own focus. Don’t’ form counter arguments that you'll make when the other person stops speaking.

7. Smile and use other facial expressions.

8. Stand erect, but be sure your stance is open and inviting.

9. Do not allow yourself to get bored, and lose focus on what the other person is saying.

10. If you are having difficulty concentrating on what someone is saying, repeat their words mentally as they say them. This way, you will reinforce their message and help you stay focused.

11. Acknowledge that you have hear the other person simply by nodding your head and saying uh huh at the appropriate moment.

12. Make an occasional question or comment to verify that you are not just listening, but that you understand what the other person is trying to relay to you.

13. Reflect by paraphrasing use terms like “what I’m hearing is” and sounds to me like you’re saying”.

14.Ask questions to clarify what the speaker has just said. Say ask questions such as: "What do you mean when you say . . .?" "Is this what you mean?"

15. From time to time in the conversation paraphrase what the speaker has just said.

16. When you feel emotionally disturbed by what you think the speaker is saying, ask for more information before assuming your emotional response is correct. Use statements like: I may not be understanding you correctly, but I find myself taking what you are saying personally.” And “What I thought you just said is . . : is that what you mean?”

17. Don’t interrupt the speaker with counter arguments, but allow the speaker to finish each point before asking questions.

18. During conversations, use the golden rule. Treat the other person in the same way that you would like to be treated. Assert your opinions respectfully, candidly, open and honestly.

Active Listening is a Skill that Can be Learned

Active Listening is not an easy skill to learn, but by with persistence, it can be learned. skill. With determination and concentration, you too can become an active listener. If improving your workplace productivity and developing better relationships is your goal, you too can learn to actively listen.

© 2013 Cygnet Brown


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    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Cygnet Brown 3 years ago from Springfield, Missouri

      Yes, Au fait, you are right, it should extend to all relationships. I think too often people often too self absorbed to really focus on what another person is saying. (Including myself)

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 3 years ago from North Texas

      Agree with what you say here and that extends to all relationships, business or personal, etc. There is so much misunderstanding in this world and I really believe much of it is the result of people so busy thinking what they're going to say next that they do not listen.

      Several years ago I heard a wise man state, "You can't learn anything when your jaws are flapping." ;) Same is true when a person is so self concerned that they do not see or hear what people around them are doing, saying, or going through.

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Cygnet Brown 5 years ago from Springfield, Missouri

      Thank you Vickiw, yes,and when a person knows that you are listening to them actively, that you care, then they are more likely to hear what you will say to them.

    • profile image

      Vickiw 5 years ago

      Hi Cygnetbrown, I do think it is very important to be an active listener, and encourage my support group to learn this skill, as it really makes life more meaningful for everyone to be heard. Voted up and I