Do you provide verbal and non-verbal feedback (e.g. questioning, paraphrasing, or gestures) while you listen to another person speaking? Active listening does not mean you agree with the other person; it means you understand what they are saying. Active listening reduces misunderstandings, creates shared understanding and improves trust; it is a critical skill for both your professional and personal lives.
5 Tips for Improving Active Listening Skills
- Stay focused and avoid distractions like multitasking (e.g. using your phone or computer during a conversation).
- Use non-verbal responses to indicate you are listening (e.g. nod your head). Remember this is still important on video calls.
- Summarize or ask for clarification (e.g. “You said x, y, z is that correct?”) throughout the conversation to ensure mutual understanding.
- Don’t jump to conclusions. Make sure you fully understand by asking questions like “Did you mean…?” “Do you think there are other options?”
- Give feedback that is immediate, honest and supportive or constructive. In other words, do not criticize or grumble; instead offer suggestions — this is what continuous improvement is about!