Life Skills in Active Listening

Active ListeningLife skills are those behaviors and activities we engage on a daily basis in order to manage our lives in a responsible way.

One very important life skill is active listening. The way you listen can impact so many parts of your life, including how well you do your job or the quality of your personal relationships.

If you’re serious about improving your life skills, then you have to get serious about becoming a strong communicator. And, listening is a key factor of good communication.

Here are some techniques you can use to become an active listener:

Be attentive. Give the speaker your undivided attention. Turn your body towards them and maintain eye contact.

In addition to listening to the words being spoken, pay attention to what is said through nonverbal communication, such as body language and gestures.

Put aside any distracting thoughts. Don’t use the speaker’s turn to prepare your response. If you’re thinking of what you’ll say next, you’re probably going to miss what’s being said now.

Give cues that you’re listening by using visual signals such as gestures and body language.

Another way to communicate that you’re paying attention is to make frequent eye contact while nodding when appropriate. These motions show that you’re engaged in what the speaker is saying.

Smiling, laughing and other appropriate expressions are also some clear responses that will let a person know you really are hearing what’s being said.

Respond to the message. Keep a welcoming, open posture to show that you’re receptive to what the speaker has to say. This might include facing the speaker, leaning toward them, and staying alert.

Short interjections like “uh-huh” or “yes” encourage them to tell you more.

Another way to make it clear that you’re actively engaged in a conversation is to summarize ever so often what has been said.

Paraphrasing can be particularly useful when someone is sharing their personal feelings with you. Also, ask questions to clarify points you don’t understand.

Avoid interrupting. Always allow the speaker to finish their thoughts. Interrupting someone is both rude and disconcerting. It also prevents you from hearing the full message.

When the speaker is finished, respond accordingly and appropriately, offering your ideas and opinions in response to what was said. While you may not always agree with others, you must still be respectful.

Now that you understand the importance of this life skill, you’ll probably want to approach it in a whole new light. You will be surprised at how differently you’ll hear things as an active listener.

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