Active listening is an active process, it is not just simply giving attention to the speakers, but also to show the verbal and non-verbal signs at the same time to let people know you are really digesting what they are saying.
Most people are not really listening
The average person talks at about 225 words per minute, but we can listen at up to 500 words per minute. So our minds are filling in those other 275 words. This shows that we easily succumb to distraction and that efforts are necessary when we want to actively listen to the speakers.
Another reason is hinted by our egocentric self. We love being the spotlight and the centre of the conversation, and talking can help us to achieve that! That’s why we tend to listen more than we speak.
When you’re actively listening, you’ll make constant feedback. This would make your colleagues and boss think that you’re smart enough to give immediate response and contributing a lot.
The essence of being a good communicator is your role played in LISTENING, not talking.
Try to respond to the speaker in a way that will encourage him to continue speaking, so that you can get the information that you need. While nodding and \”uh huhing\” says you’re interested, an occasional question or comment to recap what has been said also communicates that you are listening and understanding his message.
There are five key active listening techniques you can use to help you become a more effective listener:
1. Pay Attention
Give the speaker your undivided attention, and acknowledge the message. Recognize that non-verbal communication also speaks loudly.
• Look at the speaker directly.
• Put aside distracting thoughts.
• Don’t mentally prepare a rebuttal!
• Avoid being distracted by environmental factors. For example, side conversations.
• Listen to the speaker’s body language
2. Show That You’re Listening
Use your own body language and gestures to show that you are engaged.
• Nod occasionally.
• Smile and use other facial expressions.
• Make sure that your posture is open and interested.
• Encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal comments like yes, and \”uh huh.\”
3. Provide Feedback
Our personal filters, assumptions, judgments, and beliefs can distort what we hear. As a listener, your role is to understand what is being said. This may require you to reflect on what is being said and to ask questions.
• Reflect on what has been said by paraphrasing. \”What I’m hearing is… ,\” and \”Sounds like you are saying… ,\” are great ways to reflect back.
• Ask questions to clarify certain points. \”What do you mean when you say… .\” \”Is this what you mean?\”
• Summarize the speaker’s comments periodically.
4. Defer Judgment
Interrupting is a waste of time. It frustrates the speaker and limits full understanding of the message.
• Allow the speaker to finish each point before asking questions.
• Don’t interrupt with counter arguments.
5. Respond Appropriately
Active listening is designed to encourage respect and understanding. You are gaining information and perspective. You add nothing by attacking the speaker or otherwise putting her down.
• Be candid, open and honest in your response.
• Assert your opinions respectfully.
• Treat the other person in a way that you think she would want to be treated.
It takes a lot of concentration and determination to be an active listener.