In this tutorial we share our golden rules to demonstrate that you are 'active listening'.
Step 1. Plenty of Eye Contact
Look the person in the eye, focus on them. Not a stare out here, but plenty of eye contact.
If the eye contact feels uncomfortable to you, it will be to them! too
NOTE: Remember certain cultures and people dislike direct eye contact, so be mindful of your surroundings.
Step 2. Verbal Nod's
A Verbal Nod is where you say 'ah-ha', 'yep' and other subtle verbal noises. I must say I prefer step 3. but I do use verbal nods when someone is talking for a long time, and there is no real interruptions, for example in a presentation.
Step 3. Verbally Support
This is more than a verbal nod, it is a direct proclamation of your support for what someone is saying. Which incidentally you will not be able to do if you are not listening!
For example, "I like that", "That sounds good" or "That makes sense to me"
Step 4. Paraphrase.
Similar to step 4, you will not be able to 'paraphrase' unless you have been listening.
Paraphrasing is where you replay back something someone has said.
For example, "So to clarify, you think we would benefit from outside support" or "Just to check I understood, you are saying we only have 5 days to complete this?"
NOTE: You could paraphrase and end up getting the wrong end of the stick, but that only helps the clarification process for everyone involved in the interaction. Paraphrasing avoids any assumptions
Step 5. Makes notes.
Capture what the person has said. Especially actions that need to be taken, and definitely your own actions!
Remember to give eye contact when making notes. Asking if the person just waits a couple of moments before you make a note, will mean they will stop talking for a while.
Step 6. Summarise
Summarising what has been said will help you and others be clear on information given and actions agreed. The by-product is that is also demonstrates to the transmitter(s) that you have been listening. Again, the reason is, that it is difficult summarise if you've not been listening.
Step 7. Body language
Facial expressions and gestures can help indicate that you are listening.
These days we have body language experts on TV and in the media. I truly believe we are all naturally good at reading the subtle and not so subtle body language displayed. Whether we choose to ignore the signs is up to you!
NB: Read the right signs, just because I look at my watch doesn’t necessarily mean I am not interested.
I may be checking the time to move my next appointment, and make more time to listen to you.
Look for patterns and repetitions instead. eg Constantly looking at the clock for example.
Step 8. Ask questions.
Clarify points by asking questions. This will ensure the transmitter knows you are engaged, involved and taking things in. Here's some examples:
"You make a good point there, how did others receive this?"
"What happened next?"
"Where did they get the information from?"
The following is also a question, for obvious reasons, this type of question does not demonstrate active listening
"What did you say?"
These techniques will help you to speak more confidently in a range of scenarios.