Have you ever...
decided what you have to say before someone is finished talking?
missed what someone was saying because you got caught up in your own thoughts?
been scrolling on your phone while a friend is talking?
interrupted someone in the middle of a sentence?
If the answer to any of these is yes, it might be time for you to ask yourself honestly: "what kind of listener am I?"
Either way, it's your turn to learn how to become an active listener. Becoming an active listener will allow you to truly hear what people have to say!
What is Active Listening?
While a friend is talking, it can be natural to decide what we want to say in response. However, this means there is a chance you may have missed something important and should practice some active listening skills.
The goal of active listening is to truly hear what your friend has to say, understanding what it is they are expressing and holding back any judgement. Some key characteristics of active listening are patience and paying attention.
How Can I Be An Active Listener?
Active listening is a skill that can and should be practiced often! To start learning through each conversation remember to A.S.K., using the following steps:
Giving someone your full attention shows them you will be there to listen to everything they need to say without judgement. Your body language and verbal queues show you're paying attention
Simple behaviors like leaning into the conversation, facing your conversation partner, and maintaining eye contact, show your attentiveness. Verbal queues can include saying things like, "I see," as your friend is speaking, when appropriate.
Silence For Better Understanding
Letting someone speak without interrupting is key to being an active listener.
Taking time to respond shows that you formed what you wanted to say only after hearing everything they needed to share. This makes the other person feel heard, and shows how you would like to be treated.
Know When To Speak
The final step of A.S.K. tells us that we need to know when it is our turn to add to the conversation. Following what the other person is saying is important for picking up queues to know when to speak and what to say.
This step also tells us to ask questions to truly understand what they are talking about or how they are feeling.
Other types of questions might include: Who? What? Where? When? How? This shows you are interested in the details and want to hear more. Be cautious when asking "Why?" questions because in some cases, it may sound judgemental.
An active listener will...
When listening, it is best to follow up with...
Go out and use your new skill! Strike up a conversation with someone and really hear what they have to say!
Over time, you might notice a positive difference in your conversations with friends, coworkers, and family!
Show your interest through body-language.
Summarize to show understanding.
Let your conversation partner speak without interrupting.
Listen without judgment.
If all else fails, remember to A.S.K.!
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This Byte has been authored by
Assistant Director of International Programs and Student Affairs Coordinator; Hofstra Law