Whether you're in a group or speaking with someone one-on-one, the best way to process verbal communication is to listen actively.
This simply involves being able to repeat back to someone what they've told you, in your own words.
You don't have to agree with what they've said; you're just proving that you understand what they've said.
Active listening is a habit--once you've gained the skill, you'll utilize it without even knowing it! That said, it takes a lot of practice to become an effective active listener.
There are 5 basic elements to active listening:
1. Pay attention (slide 2)
2. Prove you are listening (slide 3)
3. Ask questions (if you need to) (slide 4)
4. Don't be judgmental (slide 5)
5. Respond (slide 6)
Listen to this 1851 speech, read by Alice Walker, and try to employ the elements discussed. Set aside other thoughts and concentrate on the message. Though you can't ask questions, remind yourself that your goal is to understand what the speaker is trying to convey
Good communication skills require you to have a high level of self-awareness. Old habits are hard to break--but with practice and determination, you'll be "actively listening" in no time!
Growing your active listening skills will not only help you become a better listener, but a better communicator as well!
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