Active listening is the practice of completely focusing on listening with a series of techniques designed to keep your mind from drifting off. It is common for people to day dream or allow their mind to go off on a tangent while someone is speaking. People tend to try to multitask while listening. For example, people may think about what they will say next as opposed to listening. Active listening seeks to engage your mind in listening without focusing on anything else. The following are examples of active listening techniques.
Reflecting ListeningShowing that you understand what has been said by repeating key points back or asking questions that are useful to the conversation.
Emotional IntelligenceThinking about the emotion behind words. For example, a coworker may be complaining about her boss because she feels unappreciated.
Social IntelligenceA broad category of interpretation that includes understanding motivations, social situations, subtleties and humor. In many cases, people communicate to achieve a social goal such as establishing status or building rapport as opposed to communicating information.
Informational ListeningListening with intent to understand.
VisualizingVisualizing what the speaker is communicating.
Body LanguagePaying attention to body language, both yours and the person who is speaking. For example, maintaining eye contact.
PatienceAllowing the person to speak at some length with patience. It is common for people to listen for a spot to interject as opposed to listening to what is being said.
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