Six Skills of Active Listening

When is a time you felt truly heard?

Do you remember what the listener did? Here are six practices to become a better listener.

  1. Hold Judgement. Keep an open mind, use empathy, acknowledge differences and be patient.
  2. Reflect. Be like a mirror and paraphrase the information and emotion you hear and notice. For example, “You seem to have doubts about …,” or “It sounds like you are happy about …”
  3. Clarify. Doublecheck ambiguity and ask open ended questions (not questions that can be answered with a yes or no). Use clarifying questions like, “Let me see if I’m clear. Are you talking about …?” With probing questions, you ask for more information.
  4. Summarize. Recap what you have heard – talk about general concepts or themes that you have observed and ask to confirm or negate your understanding.
  5. Share. Relay your ideas, feelings, suggestions, etc., after the person has finished sharing their story.
  6. Pay Attention. Notice body language, tone, intensity, facial expression, posture and any changes. Also, pay attention to what your body language is communicating to the person who is speaking. Are you leaning in and engaged?

Source: Center for Creative Leadership

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