Saturday, January 31, 2009


What is Active Listening? 

It is a technique that professionals use to improve mutual understanding.  It requires a special skill to understand the message of a speaker by interpreting and evaluating it correctly.   This skill cannot be acquired overnight. One has to practice it over and over again to master it.

What does it mean to “hear?”  It means to….

a.     To perceive by the ear
b.     To gain knowledge of by hearing.
c.      To listen to with attention.

What does it mean to “listen?” It means….

a.     To pay attention to sound.
b.     To HEAR with thoughtful attention.
c.      To be alert to catch an expected sound.

So, the technique of active listening uses the following:

a.   communication.
b.   Two or more people:  a sender and a receiver.
c.   Focus on the content of the message, not reactions.
d.   Feedback to verify the messages.

There are different types of listening we practice -- pretending, ignoring, selective, but the most important skill we have to practice is “Active Listening”.  It is the most important skill we very often fail to use or neglect totally. 

To polish our ‘Listening Skills’, we have to HEAR. Each letter in the word “HEAR” stands for something important:

H – Hear the speaker’s voice.
E – Empathize with the speaker (to experience the feelings of others).
A – Analyze the speaker’s words and thoughts (to examine methodically).
R – Respond with attention and care.

HEAR THE SPEAKER’S VOICE: -- It means to listen attentively to their words and feelings with an open mind.  To do this, we have to avoid letting our own feelings, attitudes to interfere.  So, don’t interrupt; listen to the speaker’s entire thought.

EMPATHIZE WITH THE SPEAKER: -- How do you do this?  First, put yourself in their position and be interested in what they say, even if it differs from your own.  Listen carefully for ideas, facts, feelings, and the real thought behind the speaker’s words. 

ANALYZE THE SPEAKER’S WORDS AND THOUGHTS: -- This involves some deep thinking on your part.   After listening, summarize and review in your mind what the speaker said.

RESPOND: - Use words like ‘I see’, ‘yes’, ‘I hear you’, ‘I understand’, and ‘I am with you’.  Those phrases show that you are interested in what they say and that you are paying attention. Wait until the speaker finishes.  Don’t be quick to evaluate by offering premature advice. Finally, check to be sure the speaker understands your response.

Note: Active Listening is useful for businessmen and professionals in all fields.  It is a sure fire way to succeed. 

No comments: