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The Art of Active Listening

Communication requires a dynamic approach to listening. Many people tend to not retain most information from conversations or lectures—largely due to self-reflection. There is a right—and wrong—way to approach listening.

 

Tips for Effective Listening

Here’s a list of do's and don’ts to keep in mind when communicating at work, with family, or in class:

Do

  • Acknowledge you are listening with body language—nod, smile, open your posture—and use simple words of reassurance.
  • Make and maintain eye contact with the speaker.
  • Ask clarifying questions. 
  • Be honest and hold judgment.

Don't

  • Don’t allow yourself to become distracted.
  • Don’t mentally prepare a negation or reaction.
  • Don’t interrupt the speaker.
  • Don’t assume you know everything about the subject being discussed.

 

The Takeaway

Reaffirming to the speaker that you fully understand what they are saying is only half the battle. Understanding your own personal style of communication plays an essential role in effective listening.

Use body language to confirm that you are listening, and read the speaker's body language. Interpreting facial expressions, watching hand movements, and reiterating statements allows you to become a more empathetic communicator.

Communication isn’t just a one-way street. Practice active listening on a daily basis.

Listen up! If your loved one has a hearing problem, talk with his or her primary care provider about appropriate resources for a hearing aid. You can find a physician or ear, nose, and throat specialist at Beebe.