Updated: Mar 23
Success Through Active Listening is active listening. One of the most important communication skills you can have as a leader, manager, and communicator. It’s also one of the most underrated skills to have, especially for leaders and managers.
The problem is that most people don’t know how to listen actively, and the few who do often don’t take it far enough, which means they don’t understand the power of listening.
If you’re looking to develop your ability to listen actively and gain more influence in your day-to-day conversations, then this is the article for you. In this article, you’ll learn what active listening is, why it matters, and how to practice it.
What is active listening?
Active listening is a communication skill that requires you to give your full, undivided attention to the person who is speaking. It requires you to listen and understand what someone is saying in order to be able to give thoughtful feedback or ask probing questions. With active listening, you’re not simply hearing words; instead, you are understanding and attentive to the meaning behind those words.
Active listeners also use active body language such as leaning forward, making eye contact, nodding their head and asking questions when necessary.
At its core, active listening has two parts: empathy and feedback. When you listen actively with empathy, it means that you are trying to understand where this person is coming from. You want to know their perspective on a situation so that when they express themselves fully, their needs are met and they feel heard by you. This means that there will be times when you have an opportunity to share your thoughts or ideas with them--and this is often where the second part of active listening comes in. For instance, if a colleague tells you about a conflict they just had with one of their team members and shares how frustrated they are about being misunderstood during the conversation--you may respond by saying "That sounds like it was really frustrating for you." Or if someone tells you about an idea they're struggling with because it's not resonating with others--you might say "I see what you mean."
These types of responses show that not only did this person feel heard but also
Why is active listening important?
Active listening is important because it makes you a better communicator.
As a manager, active listening will improve your relationships with your employees. You’ll be able to better understand their needs and work style, which allows you to offer more support and help them perform better.
As a leader, active listening will make sure that your team understands what you want them to do and how they should do it. Active listening also helps you identify problems before they escalate, as well as gives you the opportunity to offer feedback in a productive manner.
As a communicator, active listening will make people trust you more and be more likely to open up in future conversations. People love talking about themselves, so if you make them feel heard and understood, they’ll see that as an invitation for future conversations with you.
In short: when managers or leaders practice active listening during conversations, everyone benefits from the conversation in some way or another.
And when everyone benefits from the conversation, everyone is happier!
How to practice active listening
There are Four steps to active listening:
- Ask Permission to ask questions
- Listen attentively.
- Paraphrase what you heard. (checking for acceptance)
- Ask for clarification if you don’t understand.
Listening attentively is very important when practicing active listening. You want to make sure that you listen to what the other person is saying, and not just hear them speak. This means giving the other person your full attention and focus on what they’re saying by not losing track of their words or getting distracted by your own thoughts. Active listening requires paying close attention in a non-judgmental way, so don’t interrupt the speaker or try to offer advice or feedback right away - wait until you have an understanding of the situation before commenting.
The next step in practicing active listening is paraphrasing what you heard the speaker say. When paraphrasing, it’s important not to add any of your words or opinions into the conversation; only include those things that were said by the speaker. The goal of paraphrasing is to show that you are truly trying to understand where they are coming from without being dismissive or judgmental about their feelings or ideas. For example, if someone says “I really need more help around here!” If you were paraphrasing this statement, it would be something like “you seem frustrated that there isn’t enough help around here."
The third and final step in practicing active listening is asking for clarification
Active listening is a skill that can be learned and practiced. The more you work at it, the better you will become. Active listening is a win-win for both the speaker and listener. The speaker feels heard and the listener may learn something new!
Success Through Active Listening is a class conducted by Cherie Callahan. It is a two-day, inter-active role- play program designed to develop enhanced listening skills to all that attend.