The way that I become a better (active) listener is through practice. A word from experience here; real active listening takes a lot of energy. In the same way that an athlete can work out for hours at a time but someone who doesn’t work out will tire after a few minutes of exercise, active listening is a taxing exercise that requires consistent application of new muscles. If you only try to do this once in a while—you will fail. If you make it a part of everyday life your strength and ability will grow.
Active Listening Steps:
- Pay attention. Look only at your target, bring unconnected thoughts under control, and quit thinking about how you will respond.
- Show you’re following: Nod or shake your head to encourage a yes or no. Make sure your face is saying what it’s supposed to. Some people frown or snarl instinctively when they listen—don’t’ do this. Give mini confirmation proofs that you’re tracking with them.
- Reiterate: Give a second’s pause when they’re done to make sure they don’t have anything else to add. In response to a lengthy statement, reply with, “What I hear you saying is…”. Once you’ve given your metaphase, listen to make sure your interpretation is right.