I've been asked a few times about the Active Listening method. What exactly is meant by it and whether I have a few training exercises for it. Well, here's the explanation: active listening is more than just pretending to listen!
Let's imagine a world where everyone really listens - not just waiting to respond, but really understanding what is being said and why it matters to the other person.
This is the world of "Active Listening", a communication technique that is far more than just listening. Originally developed by Carl R. Rogers and Richard E. Farson in the 1950s, active listening has proven to be an indispensable tool in almost every field, whether in consulting, training or everyday leadership.
What is Active Listening?
Active Listening is a technique that aims to achieve a deep understanding in communication. It is not about simply being silent while someone else is speaking. It's about being an active and engaged participant in the process of communication. Here are the cornerstones:
- Just parrot them? No, thank you!
Active listening starts with paraphrasing. It sounds easier than it is. When someone speaks, you don't just repeat their words, you rephrase them in your own words. This not only shows that you have listened, but also that you have really understood what the other person wanted to say. The other person can then confirm or correct and express themselves even more clearly. This is a game changer in any communication!
- Mirror their feelings: Show that you can empathise!
Mirroring feelings is another important technique of active listening. When someone shares their emotions and you mirror them, you not only show understanding but also genuine empathy. This is a powerful tool in leadership, especially when it comes to conflict resolution or deep conversations.
- Ask questions: be curious!
Ask open questions! This type of question encourages the other person to open up further and address what is important to them. Asking open-ended questions is like opening a door to more information and deeper insights. It is a technique that shows that you are not only listening, but that you are also interested.
- To summarise: Do I understand correctly that...!
By summarising the main points, you ensure that you and your conversation partner have the same understanding and that no important details have been overlooked. No misunderstandings, no confusion, but shared clarity.
- Feedback: Show that you are there!
Active listening also means using verbal and non-verbal signals to show that you are fully involved. This could be nodding, eye contact or verbal agreement. This sends a clear message: "I am listening to you and what you say is important to me."
- Advice? Only when it's needed!
A wise listener holds back with assessments or advice unless they are explicitly asked for. Sometimes listening is all that is needed.
- Patience and concentration: Give the other person your full attention!
Real concentration and patience are a rarity in our hectic world. Give them to your counterpart and the immediate and long-term effect will surprise you.
Why should you care?
Active listening is not just a nice skill to have - it is essential for successful leadership, effective teamwork and personal growth. It helps to reduce misunderstandings, resolve conflicts and create an atmosphere of trust and openness.
In a world where everyone seems to be talking but no one seems to be listening, active listening can make all the difference. It's time we all listened a little more and talked a little less. Give it a try - you'll be amazed at how much you can gain!