Communication skills are at the heart of everything we do each day, whether at home, at work, or at play. Active listening encompasses the best of communication, including listening to what others are saying, processing the information, and responding to it in order to clarify and elicit more information. Active listening is an important conflict resolution technique that can help to diffuse a situation, improve mutual understanding of the issue, and seek a solution to the problem.
Active listeners are able to:
- Use body language to reflect a positive listening attitude
- Create a listening mindset using framing, positive intent, and focus
- Be genuine in their communications
- Ask questions, probe for information, and use paraphrasing techniques
- Build relationships to create an authentic communication experience
Body language is one of the most important aspects of active listening. Body movements, facial expressions, gestures, and tone of voice are all signs that allow us to better understand and decode what someone is saying. Moreover, these wordless signals and mannerisms allow us to convey a sense of understanding to whoever we are talking to.
When listening to others, it is important to be very genuine and focused upon what they are saying. This includes having positive intent and being both sympathetic and empathetic. In doing so, this can help to build rapport and find common ground with who we’re speaking to.
Listening is an essential aspect of being an effective communicator. As such, active listening training is essential for employees. Active listening skills training can help individuals to understand both the importance of being an active listener, as well as some important tips to do so. One of the most important features of active listening is maintaining eye contact with the speaker and utilizing non-verbal cues to show that you are listening and subsequently understand what they are saying.