Are You an Active Listener?

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

  1. Stay focused and avoid distractions like multitasking (e.g. using your phone or computer during a conversation).
  2. Use non-verbal responses to indicate you are listening (e.g. nod your head). Remember this is still important on video calls. 
  3. Summarize or ask for clarification (e.g. “You said x, y, z is that correct?”) throughout the conversation to ensure mutual understanding.
  4. Don’t jump to conclusions. Make sure you fully understand by asking questions like “Did you mean…?” “Do you think there are other options?”
  5. 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!

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