Active listening is a communication technique especially used in counseling, training, and conflict resolution which requires that the listener should fully concentrate, understand, respond and then remember what is being said.Listening requires you to engage your mind, to pay attention to the sound, to concentrate on the speaker, to gather information, organize it, interpret and retain it when it is necessary.Poor or passive listening is caused by lack of interest or external distractions, selective hearing, and more importantly due to insufficient attention paid to the speaker.Such listening can lead to misunderstanding, can feel the presentation boring, cliched or highly technical for them.There are some ways to enhance active listening which is as follows:
- Suspending judgments: Avoid all forms of biases and prejudices about the speaker can lead to misunderstanding and communication of wrong information.Suspend your judgment,focus on facts and their understanding and don’t get preoccupied with emotions and value judgments
- Pay full attention: You must pay proper attention and listen with the objective to identify, select and interpret information and meaning. To show that you are following, indicate agreement or disagreement through your body language. Make eye contact, nod your head, or show appropriate body gesture.
- Being empathetic: An empathetic person is someone who can share another person’s feelings by putting themselves in someone else’s place. It involves connecting with the speaker. It means seeking common ground with the speaker on attitudes, feeling, and emotions. Be positive, considerate and courteous. It is not enough to listen to what the speaker says. It is also equally important to pay attention to what is not said. Keep away from arguments and focus on problem solving.
- Seeking clarifications: Give feedback to the speaker by asking probing questions to verify your understanding of the presentation and to let the speaker know that you are processing information and trying to follow his or her remarks.Another way to ensure clarification is to summarize what you heard from the speaker.Many oral communication efforts fail because listeners don’t bother to give feedback to the speaker.