What is active listening (and 4 tips to practice in conversations)

Learn how to use this skill to improve your everyday communication

What is the difference between listening and hearing? Hearing is a mechanical and involuntary process that involves the sense of hearing, that is, it is not necessary to have intention for this action to happen. Listening is different: it requires interest in what you are hearing.

Listening is one of the soft skills, or interpersonal skills, are the most important skills someone can develop. The way you position yourself when another person is speaking has a huge impact on creating connections and relationships. When it comes to communication in the workplace, good listening can mean better results in deliveries and contribute to a more collaborative climate between people.

What is active listening?

Active listening is a way of listening carefully to what someone is saying, without judgment or interruptions, with the aim of truly understanding and reflecting on what is being said. This does not mean agreeing with everything the other person says, but rather keeping an open mind to empathetically assimilate the content of the speech.

Active listening is beneficial for everyone involved: the person speaking feels valued and motivated to convey their message and the person listening has a better understanding to be able to express an opinion. This is a very important aspect for successful conversations and even discussions, whether at home, at work, or in moments of socialization.

How to practice active listening 

There are some simple active listening strategies that can be incorporated into the communication process. Check out 4 tips for you to practice:

Show that you are paying attention

Making eye contact and facing the speaker are great ways to let the person know that you are paying attention to them. Body language can also contribute: keep your body relaxed, without crossing your arms or legs.

Avoid interrupting

No matter how much you have something to say, it is important to be patient and wait for the other person to finish speaking before making comments. Interruptions are frustrating for anyone trying to communicate and can make it feel like you don't think what you're hearing is important.

Reinforce what is said and ask questions

Asking questions related to the content of the conversation or that encourage the person to further explore what they are talking about demonstrates a genuine interest in the topic. Repeating what the person said and confirming that you understood is also a way to participate in the conversation without overriding your opinion.

Reflect on what the other person said

Don't worry about formulating what you're going to say next while the person is speaking. The priority should be to stay focused on what you are listening to and reflect on the content of the conversation and then build your opinion about it or deliver a response. 

Improving your listening skills is the first step to strengthening your relationships. To develop active listening skills, how about training and incorporating habits like these into your everyday communication?

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