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How to Improve Active Listening Skills

How to Improve Active Listening Skills

How to improve active listening skills.

Here are ten ways to improve your active listening skills:

  1. Give the other person your undivided attention.
  2. Don't try to trump the other persons' story.
  3. Try to visualise what the other is saying.
  4. If you cannot form a mental image, then ask additional questions, until you can.
  5. Ask for the specifics.
  6. Ask for the reasons why.
  7. Ask for more information, "What else?"
  8. Ask for time and place, "When and where?"
  9. Ask about emotions, "How did it feel?"
  10. Give continuous encouragement to the speaker.

1. Give the other person your undivided attention.

Many people only pretend to listen, when in reality, they are thinking about what they want to say, when the current speaker stops talking.

Don't do that! If you are listening, then listen.

Give the other person your full, undivided attention.

Look them in the eye and keep your mind on the job.

2. Don't try to trump the other person's story.

Don't fall into the trap of competing with the other person.

If Bob says, "I've had a tough day", then don't compete by saying, "You've had a tough day? Wait until you hear about my day!"

Treating conversation as if it were a competition is a bad-habit.

Allow the other person to take the limelight.

Don't compete.

Instead, relax and listen.

3. Try to visualise what the other is saying.

As you listen, don't be mentally passive. Be active.

Actively try to visualise what the other is saying, so that you can see it as, "a movie in the mind".

The ability to take the other person's words and see them in your mind's-eye is the crux of active listening.

You can only do this by trying to do it.

This "mental-movie making" requires a conscious effort, on your part.

It does require work, but only if you invest the effort, will you reap the rewards.

4. If you cannot form a mental image, then ask additional questions, until you can.

Some people speak using ambiguous language and it is almost impossible to fully picture what they mean. This situation is your cue to start asking questions.

5. Ask for the specifics.

Ask questions that will give the specifics of the situation. For example, if Bob says, "He disrespected me." then, that sentence is impossible to visualise, until you know exactly HOW Bob was "disrespected".

The questions you should memorise and ask is,

"When you say "THAT", what do you mean specifically".

When you say, "He disrespected" you, Bob, what do you mean specifically?"

6. Ask for the reasons why.

It is said that "everything happens for a reason". Therefore, it is always a good idea to ask for reasons.

There are two questions that you should memorise:

  • What do you think caused it?
  • For what purpose?

The above two questions ask for the reasons for any event.

7. Ask for more information. Ask "What else?"

Nobody can say everything about anything.

So, assume that, no matter what they have told you, they have omitted some parts of the story.

Therefore, you can always ask for more information.

Just ask, "What else?" or "Who else?".

8. Ask for time and place, "When and where?"

Everything that happens, happens at a time and a place, so it is often good to get that information too.

Ask, "Exactly, when did it happen?", "Where did it happen?".

9. Ask about emotions, "How did it feel?"

Everything that happens triggers an emotional response. So, it is often good to ask, "How did you feel about that?"

Most people like to talk about their feelings, so this is a particularly good question to keep the conversation going.

10. Give continuous encouragement to the speaker.

To help grease the wheels of polite conversation, give the other person a generous supply of smiles, nods, affirmations and encouragements.

If you keep the other person talking, then you won't have to, and you will never say anything wrong.

And the weird thing is; when you leave, they all agree that you were a terrific conversationalist, even though you hardly said a word.

Instead, you played the role of an active listener.

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