We Can with Two Rules: Be Active with Listening

Posted by Brenda Yoho

I have written about this and talked about listening several times. I repeat it because of how important it is for all of us to be mindful in doing this on a regular basis. Have you ever been misunderstood? Has someone only heard a few of your words, but not all of them to completely understand you?

"The Art of Active Listening: A Key Skill for Personal and Professional Growth" emphasizes that listening goes beyond merely hearing words; it involves grasping the deeper significance behind them. Whether in our personal or professional spheres, mastering the art of active listening can revolutionize relationships, resolve issues, and bolster decision-making capabilities.

Effective communication extends beyond verbal cues; it encompasses understanding the unspoken messages conveyed through various channels. Trust, a cornerstone of any relationship, evolves gradually as individuals dismantle the barriers when trust is earned. Expressing emotions or comprehending the underlying reasons behind them isn't always straightforward, highlighting the importance of active listening in deciphering the 'how,' 'what,' and 'why' of one's feelings.

Supporting active listening involves adopting certain practices and techniques. Here are some steps one can take to enhance their active listening skills:

  1. Give full attention: Make a conscious effort to focus entirely on the speaker without distractions. This means putting away electronic devices, maintaining eye contact, and refraining from interrupting.
  2. Show empathy: Seek to understand the speaker's perspective and emotions. Reflect back their feelings and validate their experiences to create a supportive environment.
  3. Practice nonverbal communication: Use nonverbal cues such as nodding, smiling, and leaning forward to convey interest and attentiveness. These gestures encourage the speaker to continue expressing themselves.
  4. Ask clarifying questions: Paraphrase what the speaker has said to ensure understanding and ask follow-up questions to delve deeper into their thoughts and feelings. When I am talking with a student I always like to say, “tell me more, what if…, how did you____, how do you think they_______, what now?”
  5. Avoid judgment: Suspend judgment and refrain from jumping to conclusions or offering unsolicited advice. Create a safe space where the speaker feels comfortable sharing openly. I utilize a great deal of wait time, hardly speak, but do provide questions to prompt not to interrogate.
  6. Provide feedback: Offer constructive feedback that acknowledges the speaker's message and encourages further dialogue. This demonstrates active engagement in the conversation.
  7. Practice patience: Allow the speaker to express themselves fully without rushing or cutting them off. Silence can be an essential part of active listening, providing space for reflection and processing.
  8. Be mindful of cultural differences: Recognize that communication styles and norms may vary across cultures. Respect cultural differences and adapt your listening approach accordingly.
  9. Stay present: Avoid letting your mind wander or thinking about your response while the speaker is talking. Stay fully present in the moment to absorb and understand their message.
  10. Reflect on your listening skills: Regularly assess your listening habits and identify areas for improvement. Actively seek feedback from others to refine your active listening abilities over time.

By incorporating these steps into your communication practices, you can become a more effective and empathetic listener, fostering stronger relationships and deeper understanding in both personal and professional contexts.

"I only have 2 rules!"
© 2024 Brenda Yoho
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