How to Practice Active Listening

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Really listening to others can be a wonderful and vital skill to help foster your friendships or any relationship. Active listening can help you to better understand those in your life and improve the quality of your relationships. You can learn to practice active listening with the following few steps.

  • Consciously schedule or set aside time when you next have a conversation with someone so you will not be rushed or hurried. Be realistic about how long you need and avoid scheduling anything to close to your time with that person.

  • Review what you know about this person and what they are talking about in your head silently while they are speaking. Keep a mental list of things you want to talk about or inquire about when they finish speaking.

  • Ensure that you are in a quiet and comfortable area during your conversation. Make sure the person you are talking to is comfortable, and be receptive to the person.

  • Continue to focus on what the other person is saying. Give non-verbal cues for understanding like nodding or, if you don't understand, frowning to help them know if you are understanding what they are saying.

  • Respond to questions if you are elicited to do so. Find a natural pause in their speech to interject and ask them if they were finished before you interrupt.

Tips & Warnings

  • It's sometimes helpful to restate what the person has been trying to say in your own words to ensure your understanding.
  • If you disagree with something that has been said, keep a mental note of it, and return to it when they are finished speaking. Bringing it up immediately can sometimes jolt the person and cause friction.
  • Do not interrupt people while they are talking. It makes them hostile or frustrated and you may break their train of thought.
  • Avoid folding your arms or crossing your legs as these postures can come across as closed off, rejecting or angry. Keep an open and receptive body posture.

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