Become a better Listener

4 Steps of Active Listening:

Stop-stop what you are doing and pay attention, this tells the speaker that you are focused on them and they are important.

Look-Make eye contact with speakers and face them directly.  Look for nonverbal cues (facial expressions and body language) that may tell you something about the speaker’s thoughts and feelings.

Listen-Listen to what the speaker is saying and pay special attention to their words, tone, and body language.  Realize that the speaker may be communicating several messages at the same time (some unspoken).

Respond-Respond in a way that tells the speaker you have not only been listening but that you have understood them as well.  Throughout the conversation, use eye contact, nods, “mm-hmmm’” smiles, or even a touch to confirm your attentiveness.   When he/she is finished speaking, reflect back what he/she has shared in order to reinforce your understanding of the situation.  Two communication strategies are: paraphrasing and asking questions to guide the speaker to their own solution.

4 Principles for Reflective Listening:

Establish an atmosphere of trust:  Let them know it is all right to talk with you

Look at (observe) What do you know about this individual’s background, experience, and temperament? Put yourself in the place of the other person; try to understand what the person is saying, not what you would be saying in the same situation.

Listen to them tell you their experience.  What is their perspective: How does he/she sound?  Listen closely for statements about feelings and for the feeling tone behind the statements; be patient and don’t push

Learn from the situation.  Develop your “best-educated guess” as to what might be going on.  Wonder about his/her feelings.  Identify your goals for the interaction and decide what response from you would best support those goals.  As you receive more information, modify your best guess and your response