Active Listening

If you truly want to connect with someone, build rapport and have a lasting personal or professional relationship with someone, the ability to listen effectively will serve you well. In today’s era, especially with technology buzzing and beeping in the background, active listening can seem to be a lost art.

I’m sure most of you have had an experience where someone who was supposed to be listening to you was inattentive and actually NOT listening to what you had to say. You knew they were inattentive because the person was not looking at you directly, was perhaps checking email on their phone or was mumbling absent mindedly in response to your questions. You knew they were not fully present with you and engaged in active listening.

Active listening means that you are fully present with another person and you have suspended at least momentarily your own words and judgement about what is being said. Your focus is solely on that individual and the person speaking has your undivided attention. It means that you are not checking your email on your phone, looking out of a window or reading anything while the other person speaks, none of which would be conducive to active listening.

Active listening also involves giving the other person cues or signs that you are indeed listening. Some cues include appropriate eye contact, nodding and from time to time paraphrasing what the other person has said after you have a chance to speak. Paraphrasing what the other person has said can be a powerful tool as it makes the other person realize that you have been paying close attention all along.

Listening is a skill that all of us can improve on to deepen our personal and professional relationships. It is skill worthy of investing your time in to enhance. Active listening can help to improve your relationships by strengthening the bonds between people. Share your stories of how you deeply connected with someone through the power of listening.

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