Active listening is not a talent. People are usually are not born as good listeners. Learning to listen actively is a skill that may be developed through time and patience.
‘Active listening’ entails, as the term implies, active listening. You focus entirely on what is being said rather than passively ‘hearing’ the speaker’s word.
Active listening entails utilizing all of one’s senses. Along with giving the speaker their undivided attention, the ‘active listener’ must also be seen to be listening. Otherwise, the speaker may decide that discussing the subject is uninteresting to the listener.
Interest can be shown to the speaker by verbal and non-verbal cues such as maintaining eye contact, nodding your head, and smiling. However, an active listener is also aware of when even her most encouraging actions are disruptive.
The most fundamental component of interpersonal communication abilities is listening.
Listening, unlike hearing, is an active process in which the listener actively chooses to hear and absorb the speaker’s messages.
Listeners should maintain an unbiased and non-judgmental attitude, which involves avoiding taking sides or forming ideas, particularly early in the dialogue. Active listening also requires patience; pauses and brief moments of silence should be expected.
Listeners should resist the temptation to interject with questions or comments whenever there is a brief moment of stillness. Because active listening entails allowing the other person time to examine their thoughts and feelings, they should be given sufficient time.
Signs of Active Listening
Small smiles can suggest that the listener is paying attention or agreeing or be pleased with the messages received. When paired with head nods, smiles can effectively convey that signals have been received.
And smiles are not always appropriate. A natural facial expression of joy, confusion, or sadness flows from a genuinely interested person in what she is hearing.
Looking at the speaker is familiar and typically encouraging. Eye contact can be scary, especially for shy presenters, so know how much is suitable in each scenario. Encourage the speaker with eye contact, smiles, and other nonverbal cues.
The sender’s and receiver’s posture might reveal a lot about them. Sitting, the attentive listener tends to lean forward or sideways. A slight inclination of the head or resting it, on the one hand, are also evidence of avid listening.
Automatic reflection/mirroring of the speaker’s facial expressions can indicate careful attention. When dealing with difficult emotions, these contemplative expressions can help. Trying to emulate facial expressions (not only spontaneous reflections) can indicate inattention.
No Signs of Distraction
Anything that implies the listener prefers to be somewhere else or has something more essential to do is distracting and demeaning to the speaker.
Because the engaged listener is not distracted, they will not fidget, stare at a clock or watch, doodle, play with their hair or pick their nails.