Listening Skills

When you’re listening, strive to remain nonevaluative and comfortable with strong displays of emotion. A comment such as, “I can understand why you feel this way” is more useful than reacting too quickly to controversial or antagonistic comments and questions. Avoid unhelpful comments such as “I know” or “It will be ok”.

So what?

This conveys verbally and nonverbally that you are trying to understand the other person’s thoughts, feelings and limitations. You communicate to the other person an attitude of genuine concern, understanding and involvement.

To become a more active listener, try the “say it back” technique. Using this technique, you restate in your own words what you understand another person is saying. For example, someone with whom you’re conversing might say, “I think I’ll be over-my-head with this job; I don’t think I’m qualified to do it.” Your “say-it-back” paraphrased response might be, “You think you might be overwhelmed by the responsibilities and lack the necessary skills…”

So what?

Active listening demonstrates engagement and respect. It also expresses a concern for accuracy. Consider, for example, how most waitstaff at a restaurant restate your order after you place it. This allows you to amend your comments and enhance the likelihood of an accurate interpretation of your message.