Guided Learning: Active listening


This animation shows you why active listening is important. Below you will find practical tips to improve your listening skills.

Content & How to use

Some may say that listening is the key to good communication. But how can you learn to listen in an active manner? 

First step would be to put away your phone (and ear pods) and look the other person in the eye so that you avoid distraction and can also interpret non verbal signs. Some people might find it difficult to look you in the eye, because of shyness or cultural habits. In that case just make sure that you focus on the conversation. 

A next step is to actually listen. There is a difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is one of your senses, where you perceive sound. This sound can be talking, a car driving or music in the background. Listening on the other hand, is the act of hearing a sound and understanding what you hear. In many cases we don't listen to details and are already thinking how to respond. The art of active listening is to really hear what someone says. Therefore you need to focus on the person and block the background noise and thoughts.

Try to also pay attention to the non verbal signs, like facial expressions, hand gestures, tone of voice as well as to what the person is not saying.

Don't use a silence to right away start talking yourself, but stay silent for a bit longer to see if the person is continuing. Once the person is finished, you could summarize or ask questions to check if you have understood correctly. This also helps the other person to listen back to what they have said. Try to wait with giving advice or saying I have had a similar experience. That is something that you can do in a later stage once you are sure that you have a good understanding.

Final tip: make sure you dont judge the other, but show sympathy and interest.

Sources and more  information:
Harvard Business Review guide on YouTube - Active listening
Simon Sinek on YouTube - The art of listening
Article on Forbes - 10 steps to effective listening
Article on Forbes - The art of listening at work