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8 Effective Techniques to Improve Active Listening Skills


image of a woman and man talking on a couch

In an age where information flows incessantly and attention spans are stretched thin, the ability to listen—truly listen—has become a rare yet invaluable skill. That's why I usually always talk about techniques to improve active listening in my leadership training.


Here's the key areas I shared with some members of the Ayrshire Chamber members as part of my Leadership Essentials workshops.


8 Techniques to Improve your Active Listening Skills:


Give Full Attention


The foundation of effective listening is giving someone your undivided attention. In a world filled with distractions, this means putting aside your phone, closing your laptop, and silencing the internal chatter to be fully present. Your focus signals to the speaker that you value their words, fostering a deeper connection with them.


Maintain Eye Contact


Eye contact is a powerful non-verbal cue that conveys interest and engagement. By maintaining eye contact, you not only show respect for the speaker but also enhance your concentration on the conversation, reducing the temptation to let your mind wander. Just make sure you don't stare or they'll think you're a creep!


Body Language


Your body language speaks volumes about your receptiveness. Lean slightly forward, nod in agreement, and use facial expressions that align with the conversation's tone. This positive body language reinforces your engagement and encourages the speaker to open up further and shows you're interested and getting their message.


Ask Relevant (Open) Questions


Asking open-ended questions demonstrates curiosity and a desire to understand the speaker's perspective. These questions, which typically begin with who, what, where, when, how, or why invite detailed responses and deeper insights, enriching the conversation. Again you need to make sure they are also relevant though, and not merely open questions furthering your agenda.


Reflect and Summarise


Reflecting or summarising what you've heard serves two purposes: it ensures you've accurately grasped the speaker's message and shows them you're actively processing their information. It also gives a chance for the other person to correct you if they don't agree with your summary. It might be they didn't mean what they said (happens a lot!) or simply you perceived their message incorrectly.


Show Empathy


Empathetic listening goes beyond hearing words; it's about connecting with the speaker's emotions. Try to understand their feelings and viewpoints, even if they differ from your own. It's not saying 'oh I know how you feel' but rather 'that sounds really heavy for you'. Make sure you know the difference as misplace sympathy can undermine the persons feelings.


Take Notes


In more formal settings or when dealing with complex information, taking notes can be invaluable. It helps you retain key points and shows the speaker you're taking their words seriously and will follow up on any commitments you've made.


Practice Mindfulness


Instead of always being distracted, practicing mindfulness can significantly improve your ability to be present when listening. This can be trained through meditation or journaling, or simply removing distractions like your phone or email for periods of time.


Hopefully, this helps you become a better listener and improve your ability to build great relationships!



 

Thought For the Weekend #TFTW


"A man with a watch knows what time it is, A man with two watches is never sure."
Segal's Law

More isn't always better, even when it comes to information.


More information can prevent your speed of decision-making, and often not for any pay-off.


So, remember the foundation of knowledge you need to make good decisions.


You will never have perfect information, but acknowledge the risk and if you can live with those, then pull the trigger.



If you liked the thought this week share it on the socials with #TFTW and tag me (@darren_green_coaching) so we can reach more people like you with this message!

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