In today’s article you’ll learn everything you need to know about how to develop active listening skills.
If you want to improve the quality of your verbal communication with others, mastering active listening methods can absolutely help you.
Active listening is the ability to totally control the discussion and let the other person know that you’re listening and that you understand what they’re telling you, that it’s important to you.
If you listen and have an interest in what the other person has to say, then you are more likely to have a good relationship with him.
How to Develop Active Listening Skills
What does active listening give?
By actively listening, you show that you’re really listening, hearing and understanding. You build interest which shows that what someone has to say is important. You offer the opportunity to build distance with other people’s statements.
By actively listening, you make sure that you have understood the intent and statement of the other person. In conversations with passionate people, you slow down the emotional momentum.
You can organize your speech and summarize the most significant things. You encourage to be more open and express all of your needs and doubts.
There are diverse approaches to classifying listening levels. One is the approach of Schultz von Thun, according to which each of us has four ears:
- Factual Ears – draw attention to facts and data.
- Open ears – draws attention to feelings, emotions that other people tell us. This ear is sensitive for “What did you tell me about yourself?
- Relationship ears – sensitive to mutual relations; it draws attention to what the sender thinks of his relationship with the receiver.
- Ear Banding – paying attention to what other people want from us; pay attention to the appeal, that is, what do you want from me.
The statements we hear can be interpreted in different ways, depending on which “ears” we process the message of our interlocutor.
Another approach is to divide it into the following four listening levels:
- Listen to cosmetics – theoretically we listen to our interlocutor, but in reality we think elsewhere. It primarily records sound waves.
- Listen to the conversation – we engage in conversation, listening, speaking and thinking. At this level we focus on the speaker and his words, but also on what we are saying ourselves. This is a normal daily level of listening in contact with other people.
- Active listening – we focus on what other people say, we pay special attention to it. We put more effort into listening than talking. Approximately 60% of the time we listen, 40% of the time we speak. We try to stay focused on the words of the person we are talking to and actively understand what he is saying and what he is trying to convey to us.
- Deep Listening – We focus less on ourselves than on the interlocutor. The listener’s consciousness is completely focused on the interlocutor. The listener has almost no confidence or self-awareness.
Effective communication principles
There are several principles that facilitate effective communication:
- Speak for yourself about what is happening in the here and now.
- Talk to someone, not about someone.
- Beware of your own prejudices (1) and stereotypes so that they have as little influence on communication as possible.
- Avoid manipulation, don’t attribute your own intentions to those of others (“I thought you knew that would be good for…………”).
- Ask for what you want, do not keep anyone guessing what it is all about. Don’t play with puzzles.
- Refusing to do something you do not want to do.
- Communicate the message as a whole. Don’t “sip” information.
- Don’t generalize, speak exactly.
- Be aware of your own intentions, why you say what you say.
- Become aware of your own body and feelings.
- Ask- how?, -what?, avoid -why?
Basic communication techniques
Active listening is nothing more than letting the other person know that we are genuinely interested in what he has to say to us. Basic communication techniques are:
We instantly state our intention, for example:
- I want us to communicate…
- This is not a simple situation for me…
- I’m in command of your case and therefore…
- I ask because I want to understand the situation so I can decide what to do next…
I want to ensure I understand you well, so I’m going to ask you a few questions. Let me…
We ask questions about specifics and address any inaccuracies, for example:
- When precisely did you receive the documents?
- What precisely is not clear to you?
- What else raises your doubts?
We explain in other words what someone said, checking if we understood it correctly, for example: “I’m unsure if we understand what you said:
- If I have understood you correctly….
- So you mean…
- So you think…
- As I understand it, what you are saying is…
Expression of interest
Minimal verbal reaction: Um, I see…
Reflect the emotions and content of the statement
We tell someone what we think they’re feeling, for example:
- You seem aggravated.
- I heard that you’re angry.
- You seem aggravated.
- I heard that you’re very troubled by this situation.
Determine, guide the interlocutor to the main topic of conversation, make a summary, for example:
- Let’s get back to the main topic of conversation….
- Let’s return to where we left off…
- So far, we have said that…
Focus on what matters most
Please focus on the most significant issues, for example:
- I hear that all of this is essential to you, but is there anything specifically we can do?
- Which of these items are most significant to you?
Personality types and verbal communication
For communication to be more effective, we must bear in mind all the factors that facilitate communication, try to remove barriers and take into consideration the exact personality of the interlocutor.
People are different from one another and it is important to remember that when communicating with other people.
People assimilate information more easily if it’s spoken in “their style” of communication, that’s, if the correct tone of voice, timbre, pace of speech, rhythm, expression are maintained.
It’s a good idea to adapt your speech depending on your “personality type” (2) that you’re talking to. In easy terms, it can be assumed that there are four basic personality types: friendly, dominant, analytical, expressive.
How to talk to each of these types?
- Maintain a friendly demeanor
- Be kind and sincere
- Try to support him emotionally.
- Show that you have an interest in him.
- Give him time to determine his goals.
- If there’s disagreement, refer not to facts and logic, but to personal feelings and the emotional environment.
- Show that you’re listening carefully and are open to discussion
- You’d rather avoid a warrant.
- Try to support his goals.
- Ask questions that will get him on the right track
- Be specific – do not “beat around the bush”.
- Be prepared and effective – stick to set time frames
- Provide solutions, alternatives
- Refer to facts, not feelings.
- Better to keep formal contacts
- Don’t tell him what to do or how to do it.
- Speak the language of benefits
- I do not think you should use nicknames
- Remember to stay on the subject.
- Be systematic and accurate
- Be well prepared for conversation
- Present advantages and downsides and prepare alternative solutions
- I do not think you should rush into making a decision.
- Provide solid evidence and references
- Packed with graphs, figures, and analysis
- Keep your distance from formal contacts
- Use somewhat formal phrases
- Speak clearly and objectively.
- Let him provide you with his views.
- Don’t rush into the discussion at the start of the conversation
- Make sure the details are correct
- Be cool.
- Written summary of all findings
- Keep up the pace of the conversation
- You can use small if the situation lets you do so
- Refers to interpersonal relationships
- Let me talk to you.
- You can appeal to your feelings
- Try to control the conversation so as not to miss the main topic.
It should be remembered that people aren’t simply divided into these four types.
However, it is a good idea to adapt your message to the temperament and personality of your audience.
Of course, examples of how to communicate with various kinds of people are just guidelines worth remembering, we should not use them unreflectively, trying to impose our own way of communicating.
In conclusion, the ability to actively listen is based on acceptance of our interlocutors, tolerance for their feelings and emotions, respect for that person.
The ability to listen actively is an extremely important ingredient in effective communication and relationship building. This allows for the creation of mutual trust.
Thanks to active listening, we not only gain information about the needs and preferences of the other person, but we also build and maintain stronger bonds with others.
By following the communication rules presented, you can improve your relationship and better convince your ideas.
Thank you for reading this article on how to develop active listening skills and I actually hope you take action on my advice.
I wish you good luck and that I hope that its content has been a good help to you.