Photo by Mimi Thian/Unsplash What is Active Listening? A Guide for Beginners image

Good conversation starts with being a good listener. There’s no other way around it.

Here’s a quick guide to the concept of Active Listening and some tips on how to be a better listener during your conversations!

What is Active Listening? explains the concept of active listening this way:

“[Making] a conscious effort to hear not only the words that another person is saying but, more importantly, the complete message being communicated.”

Active listening goes beyond merely hearing what the person you’re talking to is saying, and focuses on understanding the thing they are trying to communicate. Here’s why this is important:

“To understand the importance of this, ask yourself if you’ve ever been engaged in a conversation when you wondered if the other person was listening to what you were saying. You wonder if your message is getting across, or if it’s even worthwhile continuing to speak. It feels like talking to a brick wall and it’s something you want to avoid.”

Tips to Improve Your Skills

PsychCentral provides several tips you can use to hone your active listening skills and become a better conversation partner. Here are a few key tips:

• Restating

To show you are listening, repeat every so often what you think the person said — not by parroting, but by paraphrasing what you heard in your own words. For example, “Let’s see if I’m clear about this. . .”

• Summarizing

Bring together the facts and pieces of the problem to check understanding — for example, “So it sounds to me as if . . .” Or, “Is that it?”

• Minimal encouragers

Use brief, positive prompts to keep the conversation going and show you are listening — for example, “umm-hmmm,” “Oh?” “I understand,” “Then?” “And?”

• Probing

Ask questions to draw the person out and get deeper and more meaningful information — for example, “What do you think would happen if you. . .?”