Did you know that active listening increases well-being? Humans are hardwired for social interaction and connection. One of the many ways we connect with each other is through communication, and effective communication starts with active listening. What is active listening? Active listening is when you make a conscious effort to really hear what someone else is saying without thinking about what you will say in response. It is about listening to the complete message, which requires careful attention. Want to enhance your own listening skills? Here are 5 active listening tips you can use in your daily conversations:
Give the speaker your undivided attention
Show the speaker that you are listening by looking at them directly and not allowing distracting thoughts to steal your attention. Distracting thoughts can come in the form of you preparing a mental rebuttal, which is not active listening. When you are too busy preparing what you’re going to say in response, you’re not paying attention to the speaker, and you’re not giving them your undivided attention. You will never be able to understand the complete message they are trying to convey when you are distracted by what you want to say.
Communicate with body language
Body language conveys a lot of information, so be careful with the messages you are sending out through your body. You can use body language to show active listening by nodding your head in response, being expressive, and verbally responding in small ways that encourage the speaker to continue what they are saying. Be aware of your posture by making sure that your body is open and inviting rather than tight and closed off.
Part of active listening involves feedback. It is natural to have our own judgments and perceptions, but it’s our job as the listener to clarify with the speaker what the complete message is. An easy way to do this is by paraphrasing what the speaker said in your own words so that if there are any errors, they can be corrected. Some phrases you can use are: “What I’m hearing is…” and “Sounds like you are saying…”
Don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions so that you fully understand the information being presented.
Interruptions are major time-wasters, and they can easily drive the conversation off course, which doesn’t always make the speaker feel good after talking to you. We all make this mistake, especially when we get really excited about the conversation. Try your best to refrain from interruptions. You might have questions, and that is wonderful, but wait until the speaker is finished with their point before asking another question. They might answer your questions before you even ask them.
You don’t have to agree with or like what the speaker has to say, but you can still be respectful in your response. Share your opinion in an assertive, respectful, candid, and kind way. Think about the way you would want someone else to respond to you. You wouldn’t want them to yell, be condescending or put you down. Remember that active listening is all about connecting with others and gaining a new perspective. Remember that other people’s perspectives add value to your life, regardless of if you agree with them or not.
Are you struggling with your communication skills? Click here to send our office manager, Alli, an email. She’ll help you get matched to your perfect therapist.
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Other mental health services Integrative Counsel provides are depression counseling, anxiety counseling, art therapy, improving codependency and boundaries, grief and life transition, accessing your body informed wisdom, and increasing mindfulness and awareness.
Alli Cravener is a social media coordinator and writer who is passionate about connecting people through words. Alli studied English at Arizona State University and has found her niche uniting concept and content in the realm of mental health and the expressive arts. Alli’s interests include painting, history, learning about other people, and wearing the color pink. She likens herself to a “mouse in a palm tree”, and she loves it that way.