Active listening involves communication between two or more people. There is a sender and a receiver in all communication. Active listeners should focus on the content of the message, not on reactions to the message. The receiver should use feedback to verify that the message is understood correctly. As you finish this tutorial, here is a summary of the responsibilities and benefits of listening actively. When active listening skills are used the listener:
- Takes responsibility for understanding the message
- Understands that others have the right to be heard
- Is encouraged to resolve conflicts and prevent miscommunication
- Learns how to listen to new thoughts and ideas
- Provides, and accepts, feedback
- Understands that active listening requires time and effort
- Understands and deals with negative feelings
As a result:
- Everyone's self-esteem is raised
- Good group relations are promoted
Active Listening Tips
Active Listening uses:
- two or more people
- a sender
- a receiver
- focus on the content of the message, not reactions
- feedback to verify the messages
Tips for Responding During Active Listening
- Objectively describes another person's message, behavior, or situation. Feedback must be specific rather than general.
- Describes how the other person's behavior, message, or situation concretely affects your life. Feedback must be directed toward something the receiver can do about the situation. Frustration results when a person is reminded of shortcomings over which he or she has no control.
- Describes your own feelings and avoids evaluative language. By describing your own reactions, an individual is free to use, or not use, the feedback you give. Avoiding evaluative language reduces the likelihood that an individual will react defensively. Feedback must take into account the needs of both the giver and the receiver.
- Describes what you want the other person to do. For example, offer an explanation, a suggested change of behavior, or provide suggestions for solving a problem.
Making Effective Statements
- Use "I want" statements such as, "I want you to do this."
- Use "I feel" statements such as, "I feel X when you do Y."
- Use "mixed feeling" statements
- Use "empathic feeling" statements
- Use "confrontational" statements for discrepancies