Active listening intentionally focuses on who you are listening
to, whether in a group or one-on-one, in order to understand
what he or she is saying.
As the listener, you should then be able to repeat back in your
own words what they have said to their satisfaction. This does not
mean you agree with the person, but rather understand what they are
What do you think of the
subject matter? Have you a lot of experience with it?
Will it be hard to understand, or simple? Is it
important to you, or just fun?
Is the speaker experienced or
nervous? What are his/her non-verbal cues?
What frame of mind is he or she?
How personable, threatening, intelligent, etc.?
Is the message illustrated with
with visuals or examples? Is technology used
effectively? Are concepts introduced incrementally,
or with examples?
Is the space conducive to listening? or to
interaction or exchange
with the speaker? Are there avoidable
Described above are the external factors.
Now: what about you, the center, the listener?
Prepare with a positive, engaged attitude
Focus your attention on the subject
Stop all non-relevant activities beforehand to orient yourself to
the speaker or the topic
Review mentally what you already know about the subject
Organize in advance relevant material in order to develop it further
(previous lectures, TV programs, newspaper articles, web sites,
prior real life experience, etc.)
Seat yourself appropriately close to the speaker Avoid
distractions (a window, a talkative neighbor, noise, etc.)
Acknowledge any emotional state
Suspend emotions until later, or Passively participate unless you
can control your emotions
Set aside your prejudices, your opinions
You are present to learn what the speaker has to say, not the
other way around
Be other-directed; focus on the person communicating Follow
and understand the speaker as if you were walking in their shoes
Listen with your ears but also with your eyes and other senses
Be aware: non-verbally acknowledge points in the speech
Let the argument or presentation run its course
Don't agree or disagree, but encourage the train of thought
Be involved: Actively respond to questions and directions
Use your body position (e.g. lean forward) and attention to
encourage the speaker and signal your interest
Follow up activities
One-to-one Give the speaker time and
space for rest after talking Express appreciation for the
sharing to build trust and encourage dialogue
Check if you have understood
Restate key points to affirm your understanding
& build dialogue
Summarize key points to affirm your
understanding & build dialogue
Ask (non-threatening) questions to build
Reflect on your experience to demonstrate
your interest (feedback)
Interpret after you feel you have grasped
Apply what you have learned to a new
In a group or audience give the speaker
space to regroup, to debrief after talking
During Q & A
If posing a question
Quickly express appreciation
Briefly summarize a preliminary point
Ask the relevant question
If making a point
Quickly express appreciation
Briefly restate the relevant idea as presented
State your idea, interpretation, reflection
Invite a response
Get contact information for later reference
Invite friends/colleagues/etc. for discussion
Write out a summary with questions for further
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