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Active listening is a communication skill that goes beyond hearing the words that someone says. It is listening to understand, rather than listening to respond. It can help to eliminate misunderstanding and can build a stronger alliance between speaker and listener.

Active listening involves preparing to listen, observing what verbal and non-verbal messages are being sent, and providing appropriate feedback to show the listener is being attentive to the message. The listener is more of a sounding board rather than someone who’s there to provide their own opinion on a topic.

How to improve your active listening skills

Getting into the habit of active listening can improve many key areas of your life, including your personal and professional relationships. Active listening can also increase your knowledge of different people and different cultures, and can help to increase and improve collaboration.

Here are four things you could try to improve your active listening skills:

Encourage your own curiosity - ask questions and seek to understand the people and situations around you.

When getting to know someone, find common ground to talk about - if you’re already interested in a topic it is easier to stay focused on it.

Practice - as with any skill, it takes practice to improve on. The more you practise, the better you can become. Equally, the more you demonstrate the skill of actively listening, the more
other people learn about it. They may even start to practise it themselves.

Learn when the conversation needs to be closed in a respectful way - this can help you to prevent the conversation turning into a negative.


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Disclaimer - all information in this article was correct at time of publishing.