Learn how to listen actively,
with James Manktelow & Amy Carlson.
James Manktelow: Hello. I'm James Manktelow, CEO of MindTools.com, home to hundreds of free career-boosting tools and resources.
Amy Carlson: And I'm Amy Carlson from Mind Tools.
Think about how much information you get every day from listening.
Your boss, your colleagues, your clients, and your suppliers may communicate with you often. So will your family and friends.
With all this listening, how much time do you actually spend paying attention? How much are you actually remembering from these conversations?
Chances are, it's a lot less than you think!
A lot of times, we act as if we're listening to the other person. But the reality is that our minds are racing to other topics, or already planning what we're going to say in return.
When we're preoccupied with our own thoughts, we can miss important things that the other person is saying.
JM: Just like many other aspects of communication, listening is a skill.
And the better listener you are, the more information you'll retain from what others are telling you. This can pay off with big rewards in your career, and strengthen the bonds with your family and friends.
Active Listening is when you make a conscious effort to hear and understand what other people are saying.
You pay close attention to what they're saying, and how they're saying it, so that you can understand the complete message.
AC: There are several things you can do to become an active listener.
First, you need to pay attention. We know this is a bit obvious, but it's the most important part of active listening.
For instance, make eye contact with the person talking to you. Ignore outside factors, like other conversations, so that you can focus solely on what the person is saying to you.
Most importantly, put your own thoughts on hold. Resist the urge to start planning out what you're going to say in return.
JM: You also need to show the other person that you're listening to them.
For instance, have you ever had conversations with people where you doubted whether they were listening to you at all? Perhaps they were just standing there, with a far off look in their eyes, while you talked on.
This is why it's important to show that you're truly listening.
You can nod your head, smile, and say "yes" occasionally. All of these signals let the other person know you're still with her.
AC: Providing feedback on what the other person has just said is another important part of active listening.
For instance, all of us hear information through our own personal filters and judgments. This can affect our understanding.
To make sure that you correctly heard and understood the message, paraphrase it or repeat it back to the person. You can also ask questions to get more information.
But make sure that you listen to what they're saying before you plan your response!
The last two elements to active listening are to defer judgment, and to respond appropriately.
Deferring judgment means not interrupting when the other person is speaking. Once they're finished, you can respond appropriately with an honest response or opinion.
JM: Active listening is a skill that all of us should use in our lives.
The better we know how to listen, the more information we receive from the people around us. This helps us make better decisions, and allows us to pick up on important clues that others might miss.
You can find out more about active listening in the article that accompanies this video.