Active Listening: Master the Art with 7 Easy Skills

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Communication is an essential part of our everyday lives. From business meetings to daily conversations with loved ones, we must imbibe the art of active listening.

Active listening is the process of fully concentrating on, understanding, responding to, and remembering what is being said by another person. 

The benefits of active listening go beyond just better communication but also allow for stronger relationships and personal growth.

In this blog, we will look at 7 methods that you can use to master active listening and how you can apply them in different situations.

We will also provide tips for effective active listening, real-life examples, and takeaways to help you become an expert. So, let’s get ready to become better listeners and communicators.

Photo by Franco Antonio Giovanella on Unsplash active listening
Photo by Franco Antonio Giovanella on Unsplash

What is Active Listening?

Active listening is a prime skill. It involves providing complete attention to the speaker, conveying interest through verbal and nonverbal cues, and eliminating distractions. It is a challenging art to master, but with sustained practice, you can learn to listen actively and truly understand what the speaker wants to convey.

Active listening uses all senses and involves back-channeling, questioning, and paraphrasing.

At work, active listening helps build better relationships with colleagues and clients.

According to LinkedIn’s 2019 Global Talent Trends report, 80% of companies say that soft skills are increasingly important to their success.

Benefits of Active Listening

Active listening is an innate ability and skill which improves with practice, patience and a non-judgmental approach to communication. 

It has numerous benefits,

  • Improving interpersonal relationships
  • Understanding and reducing conflicts
  • No place for judgement and criticism
  • Clean channel for the speaker without interruptions
  • Fosters mutual trust and build stronger relationships

7 Skills to Master Active Listening

Active listening is a critical skill beneficial in personal and professional relationships. 

Here are 7 ways to master active listening:

  1. Focus on the speaker.

  2. Use nonverbal cues.

  3. Reflective listening.

  4. Ask clarifying questions.

  5. Paraphrasing.

  6. Summarize.

  7. Show empathy.

Let’s deep-dive.

1) Focus on the speaker.

Focusing on the speaker is an essential aspect of active listening. It involves fully engaging with what the speaker has to say.

Additionally, shutting down internal distractions and giving the speaker your full attention will help you understand their perspective and respond appropriately.

Some focus exercises for you to practice,

  • Maintain eye contact with the speaker
  • Avoid multitasking or checking your phone during conversations
  • Repeat what the speaker says in your mind to stay focused

2) Use non-verbal cues.

Body language matters a lot in active listening. Nonverbal cues can include facial expressions, body posture, and language patterns.

When you listen attentively, mirror the speaker’s body language to show you are engaged and interested. It will help build trust and communication skills.

Some nonverbal communication for you to practice,

  • Eye contact
  • Nodding
  • Pay close attention
  • Matching the speaker’s emotion
  • Gesturing with your hands
  • Pausing to allow the speaker to continue

3) Reflective Listening

Reflective listening involves picking up and acknowledging the speaker’s message and following it with an invitation to carry on or elaborate. 

This demonstrates to the speaker that their words have reached you and you are interested in exploring the topic further.

Some common speech tones to use when sharing your reflection,

  • Appreciative
  • Nodding in understanding
  • Thankful
  • Encouraging
  • Clarifying

4) Ask clarifying questions

Ask clarifying questions to ensure you have received the correct message. Moreover, use open-ended questions encouraging the speaker to elaborate on their beliefs or feelings.

Some sample questions for you to practice,

  • What do you mean by “this is what I believe”?
  • What made you decide to come out with this opinion?
  • Why do you think it’s important for people to know this information?
  • How have your beliefs changed since learning about this topic?

You get the point.

5) Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing strengthens the conversation and makes it more effective by converting the speaker’s words into your language. It allows you to understand their points and assists in retaining information.

Some tips for paraphrasing,

  • Use active voice
  • Stay concise
  • Make sure each sentence is relevant to the topic at hand
  • Avoid using jargon or excessive repetition

6) Summarize

Once you have understood the conversation, summarize the main points to ensure everyone remains on track.

Some tips when summarizing,

  • Be concise – only include the key points discussed
  • Use simple language to ensure everyone can understand
  • Check with the speaker if you missed any points
  • Add anything else they feel is relevant

7) Show empathy

Lastly, maintain appropriate empathy during the conversation by expressing your own experiences or feelings toward the topic. 

It will help to build rapport and encourage continued dialogue.

Some tips when empathizing,

  • Remember to stay positive
  • Be concise and to the point
  • Acknowledge their emotions – “I can see that this upsets you.”
  • Reflect on their perspective – “I can understand why you might feel that way.”
  • Offer support

How to Apply Active Listening in Different Situations?

In a professional setup

1. As soon as you attend a meeting, be attentive and ask clarifying questions to make sure you understand the objectives of the meeting.

2. When speaking with your manager or supervisor, paraphrase what they say.

3. If there is any confusion or disagreement among team members, try summarizing their points and reaching a consensus.

4. Always keep an open mind when discussing new ideas; listen attentively to others’ input before forming your opinion on something controversial or sensitive.

In a relationship

1. If you’re in a relationship, take the time to listen actively and honestly.

2. Don’t rush to conclusions – let your partner have their say before jumping straight to yours.

3. Try not to interrupt them when they are speaking; allow them ample opportunity to explain themselves fully and without interruption from you.

4. When tensions arise, try communicating calmly and rationally so that both parties can come up with an agreeable solution as quickly as possible.

In a social gathering

1. When you’re at a party or bar, be aware of your surroundings and take the time to listen to everyone around you.

2. Try not to monopolize the conversation; allow others their voice too.

3. Don’t feel obligated to share your opinions – let people speak without interruption to build confidence before sharing theirs.

Tips for Effective Active Listening

Effective communication involves active listening. Remember, people retain only 25-50% of what they hear.

To master the art of active listening, one must pay undivided attention, use appropriate body language, show interest, avoid interruptions, and reduce distractions.

Techniques and soft skills like,

  • Therapeutic listening
  • Reflecting
  • Empathizing
  • Giving feedback (tone of voice),

…improve communication and create a welcoming environment to share ideas.

Active listening helps employees in various settings like meetings, appraisals, and daily interactions.

Real-Life Examples of Active Listening

1. A therapist listens and empathizes with their patient’s struggles to understand their emotions and provide support.

2. Customer service representative listens patiently to customers’ complaints, understanding their frustrations and providing the best solution possible.

3. A teacher actively listens to their students, encouraging them to share their thoughts and ideas in a safe environment.

4. A manager conducting performance discussions, listening attentively to employees’ concerns, and addressing them appropriately.

Active listening is a skill you can master through practice and patience; it has the potential to strengthen personal relationships, improve workplace productivity, and boost professional growth.

Additional Research

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is active listening important?

Active listening allows individuals to understand and comprehend the speaker. It also helps build trust, fosters better relationships, and improves productivity.

How can one improve their active listening skills?

One can improve active listening skills by paying undivided attention, using appropriate body language, showing interest, avoiding interruptions, and reducing distractions. Techniques like therapeutic listening, empathizing, and giving feedback can also be helpful.

Can active listening strengthen relationships?

Yes, active listening can strengthen relationships. By communicating empathy and respect, active listening builds trust and improves bonding. It also helps you to practice judgment with mindfulness. It involves not just hearing what someone is saying – but also engaging in therapeutic listening by using nonverbal cues and empathizing.

Also, it is a trait of a good listener.

In addition to reducing misunderstandings and conflicts, active listening can lead to higher-quality work activities, productivity, and efficiency in the workplace. It is a skill that can be learned and improved over time and is strongly related to positive interactions and outcomes.

What are some common barriers to listening, and how can I overcome them?

There are several common barriers to the art of listening, including internal factors such as inattentiveness and external factors such as distractions. Other obstacles to effective listening include selective listening and defensive listening.

Additionally, judgment and suggesting solutions can become barriers to creating a safe environment for active listening.

To overcome these barriers, it is important to actively engage with the speaker, maintain eye contact, and avoid distractions.

Additionally, practicing empathy, demonstrating interest, and refraining from interrupting can help create a more conducive environment for active listening, which can improve personal and professional relationships.


Active listening is a powerful tool for effective communication, better relationships, and improved understanding.

You can develop your active listening skills and become a more attentive and great listener by using the 7 skills we have shared.

Whether speaking with a colleague, a friend, or a family member, active listening can help you improve your relationships and get more out of your conversations.

To continue expanding your communication skills, check out our recommended resources for further reading.

As an active listener, don’t forget to put your new knowledge into practice and see the positive effects on your everyday conversations.

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