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Active Listening: Hear What People are Really Saying

Author: By the Mind Tools Editorial Team

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Nov 28
John Guzman (Nov 28 2017 1:36PM) : you have to make eye contact with the person so they can know you are listening to them.

Learn how to hear the whole message by using active listening techniques.

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Listening is one of the most important skills you can have. How well you listen has a major impact on your job effectiveness, and on the quality of your relationships with others.

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Nov 21
Samson Oshode (Nov 21 2017 1:39PM) : I think that what most people have to work on is 4.Defer Judgement "Allow the speaker to finish each point before asking questions" & "Don't interrupt with counter arguments" more

People should focus more on this because everyone always wants to give their opinion out and explain what is going on inside of their head, but no one wants to listen to what the other person has to say. Once the person lets out their point of view they feel as if the conversation is over and that the topic is finished. Some ways you can do this is by relaxing, waiting your turn and actually thinking of a way to explain the topic in a way where the person you are talking to would second guess what they are saying.

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For instance:

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  • We listen to obtain information.
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  • We listen to understand.
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    Nov 28
    John Guzman (Nov 28 2017 1:38PM) : We understand more when we look the person in the eyes and keep our mind clear in order to be able to understand.Also people usually nod their head to the the other person to inform them that they are still listening.
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  • We listen for enjoyment.
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  • We listen to learn.
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Given all this listening we do, you would think we'd be good at it! In fact most of us are not, and research suggests that we remember between 25 percent and 50 percent of what we hear. That means that when you talk to your boss, colleagues, customers or spouse for 10 minutes, they pay attention to less than half of the conversation. This is dismal!

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Nov 28
John Guzman (Nov 28 2017 1:40PM) : i disagree with this because i don't remember a lot of stuff and i probably forget it that same day.
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Turn it around and it reveals that when you are receiving directions or being presented with information, you aren't hearing the whole message either. You hope the important parts are captured in your 25-50 percent, but what if they're not?

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Clearly, listening is a skill that we can all benefit from improving. By becoming a better listener, you will improve your productivity, as well as your ability to influence, persuade and negotiate. What's more, you'll avoid conflict and misunderstandings. All of these are necessary for workplace success!

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Tip:

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Good communication skills require a high level of self-awareness . By understanding your personal style of communicating, you will go a long way towards creating good and lasting impressions with others.

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About Active Listening

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The way to improve your listening skills is to practice "active listening." This is where you make a conscious effort to hear not only the words that another person is saying but, more importantly, try to understand the complete message being sent.

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Nov 28
John Guzman (Nov 28 2017 1:41PM) : Also you can ask question when the person who is speaking has said what they had to

In order to do this you must pay attention to the other person very carefully.

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You cannot allow yourself to become distracted by whatever else may be going on around you, or by forming counter arguments that you'll make when the other person stops speaking. Nor can you allow yourself to get bored, and lose focus on what the other person is saying. All of these contribute to a lack of listening and understanding.

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Tip:

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If you're finding it particularly difficult to concentrate on what someone is saying, try repeating their words mentally as they say them – this will reinforce their message and help you stay focused.

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To enhance your listening skills, you need to let the other person know that you are listening to what he or she is saying. To understand the importance of this, ask yourself if you've ever been engaged in a conversation when you wondered if the other person was listening to what you were saying. You wonder if your message is getting across, or if it's even worthwhile continuing to speak. It feels like talking to a brick wall and it's something you want to avoid.

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Acknowledgement can be something as simple as a nod of the head or a simple "uh huh." You aren't necessarily agreeing with the person, you are simply indicating that you are listening. Using body language and other signs to acknowledge you are listening also reminds you to pay attention and not let your mind wander.

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You should also try to respond to the speaker in a way that will both encourage him or her to continue speaking, so that you can get the information if you need. While nodding and "uh huhing" says you're interested, an occasional question or comment to recap what has been said communicates that you understand the message as well.

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Tip:

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Be aware that active listening can give others the impression that you agree with them even if you don’t. It’s also important to avoid using active listening as a checklist of actions to follow, rather than really listening. It may help to practice Mindful Listening if you find that you begin to lose focus.

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Becoming an Active Listener

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There are five key active listening techniques. They all help you ensure that you hear the other person, and that the other person knows you are hearing what they say.

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1. Pay Attention

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Nov 28
Jean Morales (Nov 28 2017 1:43PM) : It is a good idea to learn that people will look at the body language your giving when you talk.

Give the speaker your undivided attention, and acknowledge the message. Recognize that non-verbal communication also "speaks" loudly.

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  • Look at the speaker directly.
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  • Put aside distracting thoughts.
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  • Don't mentally prepare a rebuttal!
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  • Avoid being distracted by environmental factors. For example, side conversations.
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  • "Listen" to the speaker's body language .
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2. Show That You're Listening

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Use your own body language and gestures to convey your attention.

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  • Nod occasionally.
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  • Smile and use other facial expressions.
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  • Note your posture and make sure it is open and inviting.
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  • Encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal comments like yes, and uh huh.
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    Nov 28
    Jean Morales (Nov 28 2017 1:38PM) : I think this is a good idea because you would want hear more of what the person is saying. [Edited]
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3. Provide Feedback

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Our personal filters, assumptions, judgments, and beliefs can distort what we hear. As a listener, your role is to understand what is being said. This may require you to reflect what is being said and ask questions.

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  • Reflect what has been said by paraphrasing. "What I'm hearing is," and "Sounds like you are saying," are great ways to reflect back.
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    Apr 19
    angie liranzo (Apr 19 2017 1:51PM) : this is kind of awkward. more

    i feel like saying things like that will only interrupt the conversation. nobody was taught this way. so its going to be weird to randomly repeat what the other person just said.

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    Nov 28
    Jean Morales (Nov 28 2017 1:37PM) : I think this would be the hardest thing for us to do because we are not use to reflecting back with one an other.
  • Ask questions to clarify certain points. "What do you mean when you say." "Is this what you mean?"
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  • Summarize the speaker's comments periodically.
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Tip:

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If you find yourself responding emotionally to what someone said, say so, and ask for more information: "I may not be understanding you correctly, and I find myself taking what you said personally. What I thought you just said is XXX; is that what you meant?"

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4. Defer Judgment

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Interrupting is a waste of time. It frustrates the speaker and limits full understanding of the message.

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  • Allow the speaker to finish each point before asking questions.
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    Nov 28
    John Guzman (Nov 28 2017 1:43PM) : We should respect each other and allow the speaker to finish talking then when it's the listener turn the speaker has to give the same respect
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  • Don't interrupt with counter arguments.
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5. Respond Appropriately

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Active listening is a model for respect and understanding. You are gaining information and perspective. You add nothing by attacking the speaker or otherwise putting him or her down.

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Samson Oshode (Nov 21 2017 1:45PM) : Active listening & Respect. more

People in general should also focus on this because when you are active listening you’re absorbing information like a sponge and actually gathering up knowledge that you probably never heard of.

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  • Be candid, open, and honest in your response.
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  • Assert your opinions respectfully.
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  • Treat the other person in a way that you think he or she would want to be treated.
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Key Points

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It takes a lot of concentration and determination to be an active listener. Old habits are hard to break, and if your listening skills are as bad as many people's are, then there's a lot of habit-breaking to do!

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Be deliberate with your listening and remind yourself frequently that your goal is to truly hear what the other person is saying. Set aside all other thoughts and behaviors and concentrate on the message. Ask questions, reflect, and paraphrase to ensure you understand the message. If you don't, then you'll find that what someone says to you and what you hear can be amazingly different!

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Start using active listening techniques today to become a better communicator, improve your workplace productivity, and develop better relationships.

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DMU Timestamp: February 21, 2017 15:38

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Apr 19
Student Justin Cordero (Apr 19 2017 1:47PM) : this video is the truth more

u need to be a good listener u have to give your full attention to the speaker and listen carefully to everything they say so u can fully understand what they are telling u , occasionally nod and give small feed back so that they feel comfortable knowing that you’re listening . You need all that to be a good listener and make people feel comfortable with telling you personal information

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