Mastering active listening

4 min read
Louise halimi

If you want to develop or maintain fulfilling and lasting relationships, active listening is essential. We use it without realizing it, but in today's fast-paced world our attention is so stretched that we tend not to practice it enough. Let's take a moment together to define what it is, why it is important and how to practice it on a daily basis.

Effective communication is essential to create a bond and have good personal and professional interactions. Active listening is a crucial skill in the field of communication. It allows us to truly understand others and foster stronger relationships. It makes us active listeners. It is also a good practice that avoids the polarization of discussions.

Understanding active listening

Active listening is more than just hearing words; it is a conscious effort to fully engage with an interlocutor and understand their message. It involves giving undivided attention, being present in the moment, and actively processing the other person's words, emotions, and non-verbal cues. Active listening requires setting aside distractions, suspending judgment, and showing empathy. Practicing active listening creates an environment of trust, respect and understanding.

The importance of active listening

Active listening offers many benefits. It improves communication by promoting clarity and avoiding misunderstandings. This shows respect for the interlocutor, making them feel understood and in some way valued. Active listening builds trust, strengthens relationships and encourages open dialogue. It allows for the exchange of diverse perspectives, leading to more informed decision-making. In addition, active listening promotes personal growth, because by practicing it, we accept to expose ourselves to different ideas. It helps us expand our knowledge and understanding of people and the world.

Good practices to promote active listening

Step 1 - Eliminate distractions, be present

Start by creating an environment conducive to active listening. Minimize external distractions by putting away electronic devices or choosing a quiet place. Prepare yourself mentally to be fully present and engaged in the conversation. Show respect to your interviewer by sincerely giving them your full attention.

Step 2 - Maintain eye contact and open body language

Maintain constant eye contact with the interlocutor, demonstrating that you are actively focusing on them. Maintain an open and relaxed body posture, facing your interviewer, and avoid crossed arms or other defensive gestures. By adopting this attitude you show interest and attention.

Step 3 - Practice non-verbal cues

Use non-verbal cues, such as nodding, smiling, or leaning forward slightly, to signal to your conversation partner that you're actively listening and encourage them to keep sharing. These signs convey your commitment and understanding of their message, bringing comfort and support. This will help your speaker feel safe and confident.

Step 4 - Listen without interrupting

Refrain from interrupting your speaker, even when you have thoughts or answers to share. Allow him to fully express himself before bringing your point of view. By giving your interlocutor uninterrupted space, you create an atmosphere of respect and demonstrate that you value their words. This will allow you to have an adapted and thoughtful speech afterwards. You will have had all the information or questions that your interlocutor wanted to share and more time to build your thinking.

Step 5 - Ask open-ended questions

Encourage your interlocutor to expand on their thoughts and feelings by asking open-ended questions. Open-ended questions encourage deeper exploration and provide the speaker with an opportunity to share additional ideas. These questions demonstrate your genuine interest in understanding his point of view.

Step 6 - Reflect and paraphrase

Reflecting on and paraphrasing someone else's words is an effective active listening technique. Summarize key points and rephrase them in your own words to demonstrate your understanding and ensure accurate interpretation. This process allows the speaker to clarify any misconceptions and confirms your attention. It also helps fuel your thinking.

Step 7 - Empathy and validation

Empathy plays an important role in active listening. Put yourself in the other person's shoes and sincerely try to understand their emotions and experiences. Show empathy by acknowledging their feelings and validating their point of view. Use phrases like "I can understand how you must have felt" or "It sounds like you had a tough experience." Validate their thoughts and feelings non-judgmentally, even if you disagree or even disagree at all. By practicing empathy and validation, you create a safe and supportive space for your conversation partner to speak freely, fostering deeper connection and mutual understanding. You will in turn be able to share your opinion and your perception of the situation with sincerity.

Active listening is a transformative skill that improves communication, promotes understanding and strengthens connections. It requires practice, patience, and a genuine desire to connect with others. As you will have understood, it is also about accepting differences and being open to otherness. By mastering active listening, you will access deeper understanding, empathy, and more fulfilling relationships.