Active listening is when you listen with an intentional effort to understand the point of view of others, their motivations, thoughts and expectations while suspending any judgment. Whilst this might sound simple, in reality, it takes awareness, accountability, practice and patience to perfect.
Ironically the most important part of communication is the ‘receptivity’ component – listening. This sounds relatively basic. However, as human beings, we have created ‘disguises’ for our listening patterns and many of us have become such brilliant actors that we can even look as if we are listening when we’re not actually listening at all.
These ‘disguises’ now have names: selective; passive; competitive and active. The truth is we all fall into any one of these listening types during our days, so much so we don’t even know we are doing it most of the time. By learning how to ‘switch on’ active listening consciously you can ensure you’re really listening and being heard.
“Good listeners are like trampolines. They are someone you can bounce ideas off of — and rather than absorbing your ideas and energy, they amplify, energize, and clarify your thinking.”
- Harvard Business Review