Active listening techniques (45+)

The current blogspot will be based on the question “what are the active listening techniques?”. The active listening techniques will be enlisted and discussed with examples to gain a deeper insight about various techniques and strategies that help us to utilize active listening techniques for effective communication.

What are the active listening techniques?

Active listening techniques are the various strategies that help us listen and hear the concerns of the speaker effectively. Active listening techniques lie at the core of effective communication and ensure a smooth communication process.

Active listening techniques enable us to clearly listen to what is being said and understand the thoughts, feelings, concerns and opinions of the other person.

The “active” part of active listening techniques asks for the listener to intentionally and deliberately utilize strategies to gain the information from the speaker that otherwise would not have been possible.

Active listening techniques take the listener’s attention away from whatever is running in their head to listen with care and attention to the speaker’s content. 

For example, during a job interview, the active listening skills really need to be implemented. If the candidate is not listening actively to what the interviewer is asking, he might reply wrong out of his own nervousness. 

Similarly during an exam viva, a student might miss out important parts of a question while being busy in recalling mentally what he/she has learned. Without active listening, the answers to viva questions will be negatively affected by exam anxiety and related negative thoughts.

Active listening involves listening with all the senses to make sense of whatever is being communicated by the speaker.

Active listening is an important soft skills required by every individual to effectively communicate with other people and develop socialization skills.

List of active listening techniques

Active listening techniques include:

  • Establishing rapport
  • Showing concern
  • Paraphrasing
  • Summarization
  • Remembering
  • Reflecting
  • Verbal affirmations
  • Questioning Techniques
  • Clarification
  • Nonverbal cues

Establishing rapport

Establishing a good rapport between the speaker and the listener is of immense importance and lays the basis of active listening skills.

A rapport between the speaker and listener is necessary to bring both parties to a comfort level so that the listener may say whatever he wants to say and the speaker may attend to the said message without any biases or judgments.

For example, when we call the bank companies or any customer care departments, they ask us our names to address us during the conversations, similarly during email conversations with any company, our names are mentioned with a title first to establish a good rapport.

Showing concern

Showing concern to the speaker is an effective technique for active listening. Allowing wait time before responding to whatever is being said and not interrupting while the message is being conveyed are the basic techniques for active listening.

Showing your concern to whatever is being said can also be achieved by having an open body posture. 

For example, a student is narrating her verbatim about an incident that she witnessed outside the school gate after off time. Instead of interrupting it after every sentence and questioning repeatedly, the teacher listens to the whole verbatim with spontaneity and asks the questions in the end.

Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing is a technique used for active listening. It helps the  listener to gain deep insight about the message that is being communicated by the speaker.  Paraphrasing involves restating the conveyed message to the listener to convey what you have understood from the message instead of imposing your opinion upon them.

For example, a lawyer may ask the client that “whatever I heard from you up till now makes me believe that your relationship with your in-laws was toxic”.

Summarization

Summarization is an active listening technique that calls for a summary of the overall message with a focus on content of the message and the underlying feelings of the speaker. Summarizing calls for concluding the conversations with the listener’s perception of the message that has been conveyed.

Summary calls for summing up the main points of the conversation without judging, criticizing or evaluating the speaker.

For example,  a counselor may say at the end of the session “today we discussed the different triggers that make you react unpleasantly. I would like you to remember your home tasks and work towards the discussed coping skills”.

Remembering

Active listening calls for memorizing and remembering the shared information. When a listener remembers the shared information with its content and the feelings of the speaker. Remembering helps the listener to draw inferences at the end of the communication related to the message conveyed.

For example, a speaker may share information related to his familial relations while sharing his daily routine. The listener remembers that chunk of information and later compares it with the information the speaker shares about family dynamics at any other point.

Reflecting

Reflection technique is used for active listening. It understands to convey the speaker about whatever feelings the listener is able to conclude on part of the speaker from the conversation.

The reflection of the speaker’s feelings helps the speaker know that they are being heard and attended well by the listener.

For example, after a speaker has shared about their mother’s death the listener can reflect by saying “I can see you have been greatly disturbed due to the death of your mother”.

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Verbal affirmations

Verbal affirmations are related to positive feedback, appreciations and appraisals. The listener goes through the message being communicated and provides feedback including a positive reinforcement that makes the individual focus on the positive aspect of the negative or unpleasant life event.

For example a speaker might share about being bullied at school and the listener says “I am proud of you for managing your unpleasant emotions well during the bullying incident”.

Questioning Techniques

Questioning techniques show the concern of the listener in whatever is being communicated by the speaker. 

Asking the right question and the right time during the conversation is a key to effective communication. However, asking a question for the sake of a question often disrupts the flow of a conversation.

Questioning is based on the use of open ended and close ended questions. Open ended questions are used by the listener to obtain details of information whereas close ended questions are used to know facts and obtain short answers.

Asking a close ended question instead of an open ended question is a big threat to effective communication and active listening.

For example, asking questions like “tell me more about the experience”, “how did it affect your relationship”, “what do you think is the solution now?”.

Clarification

Clarification is a technique used in active listening to check the listener’s perception of the information conveyed by the speaker. 

Clarification helps us to fill in the conversation gaps by asking the speaker about the gaps.

For example a listener may ask the speaker “could you tell me more about any such negative incidents that you think happened to you due to the super natural powers?”.

Nonverbal cues

Active listening techniques not only involve the verbal techniques but also the various nonverbal techniques that are adopted by the listener to communicate a better understanding of whatever is being talked about.

The nonverbal active listening techniques include:

  • A firm tone that is not too low or too high to neither show disrespect or be judgmental.
  • An open body posture to convey acceptance for the client.
  • Pleasant facial expressions
  • Eye contact is properly maintained
  • Head nodding to convey being heard to the client
  • Maintaining silence with the client

Conclusion

The current blogspot discussed the various verbal and nonverbal techniques that are an important aspect of active listening. We discussed the techniques and shared examples of the active listening techniques that help us communicate effectively with the people around us.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs): Active listening techniques

What are the 3 A’s of active listening?

The 3 A’s of active listening include:

  • Attention
  • Attitude
  • Adjustment

What are the 4 active listening techniques?

The 4 active listening techniques are:

  • Reflecting feelings
  • Paraphrasing
  • Summarizing
  • clarifying

What are some tips for active listening?

Some tips for active listening are:

  • Avoiding to interrupt
  • Asking too many questions
  • Giving unasked suggestions
  • Avoiding judgments
  • Asking clarifications instead of assuming

Citations

https://virtualspeech.com/blog/active-listening-skills-examples-and-exercises

https://www.yourthoughtpartner.com/blog/bid/73770/the-8-steps-to-active-listening

https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/active-listening-skills

https://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/active-listening.html

https://www.thebalancecareers.com/active-listening-skills-with-examples-2059684

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