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Active Listening

Active Listening

Author: Meghan Hatalla

Answer questions related to active listening:
- What is active listening?
- How do I become an active listener?
- What can I do to improve my active listening skills?

Every day, we hear things--we hear a friend tell a story, or a waitress read back an order, and we definitely hear teachers lecture on subjects. But simply hearing words doesn't mean we're listening. And if we're not able to remember what we heard, real learning can't happen.

The point of active listening is to not only hear a speaker, but be able to understand what they're saying, and then say it in your own words. This packet will give you tips on how to become an active listener.

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1. What is active listening?

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.

2. How do I become an active listener?

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.

What do I need to work on to become an 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)

Soujourner Truth's "Ain't I Woman?"

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

3. Improve active listening skills

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!

Tips for improvement:

  1. Repeat the speaker's words: if you have a hard time getting the message, try repeating the words to yourself. This will help you stay focused.
  2. Speak up: if you begin to respond emotionally to what someone is saying, let them know that you're taking their words personally--and ask if that's their intent.
  3. Be deliberate when listening: repeat, reflect or paraphrase their words.

Growing your active listening skills will not only help you become a better listener, but a better communicator as well!