10 Active Listening Tips

“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d rather have been talking.” – Aristotle

  1. Be an active listener: Using active listening skills enables people to shape and focus any conversation. Here are some of the principles that make-up active listening: active listening takes effort, hard work and deliberative practice. This type of listening is not a passive activity. Good listening means asking questions, challenging all assumptions, and understanding the context of every interaction. Good listening results in a new clarity of focus, greater effectiveness and efficiency, and an increased likelihood of connecting and understanding others.
  2. Learn to express yourself in ways that others understand and can relate to. Learn to avoid the dangers of misunderstandings and emotional conflicts to identify  what is really trying to be said. Use trigger words and phrases to promote positive reactions to negative situations. Establish good communication lines with those around you, and forge stronger and more meaningful relationships. Learn what to say, how to say it, and when to say it. Written for the average person or the business professional, Fitly Spoken is a guide to developing strong communication and social skills in any environment or circumstance.
  3. Get others to hear you out by being concise, clear and compelling when trying to communicate. Whether the person is a harried colleague, a stressed-out client, or an insecure spouse, things will go from bad to worse if you can’t break through emotional barricades.
  4. Use focused listening–Keep your eyes focused on the person speaking, don’t just stare, or looking around, or interrupt others.  All of these signals leave the speaker knowing they have not been heard. Not being heard limits our responsiveness in all areas of our living. We all long to be understood by someone listening to and hearing us, with understanding and compassion. We become stronger when we recognize that we must first seek to listen before we can be understood.
  5. A critical aspect of listening is to be fully available to someone who is speaking, not to switch the conversation to yourself. Being listened to sincerely motivates us. We know we are appreciated.
  6. Create a zone of safety. Allow deep feelings and meanings to be expressed without judgment. Don’t try to top the other person–When we are not heard, we feel isolated. There is nothing so satisfying as a good conversation in which by people feel understood and insync so much so that you can say anything, knowing you will be heard for the person you are and you will listen to the person they are, without losing the friendship. When we have the courage to really listen, misunderstandings and conflicts can be avoided.  Listening involves caring about the person and the response they make more than learning routines to follow. People are more likely to listen to your point of view after you have taken the time and interest to explore their vantage point. When you can listen with objectivity, and not interject your attitudes, while you are exploring the other person’s view, creates an atmosphere of trust and safety in which they are more likely to open up to you.
  7. Listen for the emotion and tone being expressed but not being directly said. Conversation usually happens on more than one level, that which is said and that which is meant. We know what we are saying and we assume others hear us as we intend. For instance, we may have a need just to talk, to vent and not get advice or solve problems. We may not have explained that we just wanted to vent, not to be “helped”. It is important to listen for a person’s need at their emotional level and for us to regularly check with them to be sure we are being heard as we intended and need.
  8. Suspend Our Own Need to talk until the other person feels you understand or get what they are trying to communicate. Check for understanding by restating what you heard and understood to the other person’s satisfaction.
  9. Show Empathy. Allowing ourselves to be open to really hear another opens ranges of delight and surprises when we touch deeper aspects of people. Empathy is that quality that is open to what and how others express, being aware of the variety that is presented. Being prepared to be sensitive and walk in the other person’s shoes rs vastly improves communication.
  10. Show real real interest in the speaker leaving your own agendas at home. Good listening requires us to withhold our input until the speaker has had their say. However, the speaker needs your input, including eye contact, smiling or frowning in response to the words, or nodding your head.Listening involves letting go of your position, temporarily, leaving a feeling of losing control, particularly when we expect not to like what we will hear. Tolerating conflict arouses feelings of being threatened. Just the words, “I understand how you feel” can open up communication. Active listening requires a great deal of patience and self control.
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