active listening

Do you practice active listening? 

Active listening was first coined by Carl Rogers and Richard Farson in 1957. That’s over 60 years ago, yet we still struggle with these skills. Honestly, I think it’s time to put this in the elementary school curriculum.

Commonly, most people relate the meaning of ‘active listening’, to ‘paying attention’ or ‘being present’. Those are great reminders, but active listening actually takes a lot of practice and intention. We have forgotten how to listen to one another in our daily, busy, emotional, and information ridden lives. It’s time to step back and reassess what we all know is critical to human connection and communication.

Active listening skills and techniques can be found all over the web. It’s actually pretty simple, but not necessarily easy, depending on how you typically operate.

1) The most important rule to remember first, is to be silent. In order to be an active listener, you first need to be a listener! A good listener does not interrupt.  Notice how many times you interrupt others. Be more intentional about remaining silent until they are finished.

2) Ensure that what was said, matches what was heard. Did you understand them correctly? Ask questions or reflect back your understanding to ensure there is no miscommunication.

3) If you are listening in person, use your body language to show your intentional listening. Don’t fiddle with your phone or computer. Instead, look them in the eyes, turn your body toward them and even lean in a little. Give them your undivided attention.

If you just start with these three things, you will be well known as a great listener.