By: Karen R. Thompson, LMSW, CEAP, CAADC, EAC Clinical Specialist – Listening skills are an essential component of effective communication in personal relationships and in the workplace. Active listening is making a conscious effort to hear, understand, and retain information that is being relayed to you. It is a skill that can be acquired and developed with practice.
The first step in active listening is being attentive and fully present in the conversation. It is important to minimize distractions and carefully concentrate on what is being said. The listener should give full attention to the speaker and demonstrate attentiveness through both non-verbal and verbal responses.
Non-verbal responses include maintaining good eye contact, head nods, forward -leaning posture, etc.
Short verbal affirmations demonstrated to the speaker that you are attentive are phrases such as:
- “I understand.”
- “That makes sense.”
- “I agree.”
- “I see.”
An important verbal skill in active listening is reflections. This is when the listener summarizes and paraphrases (reflects back) the main point to show understanding. A reflection demonstrates that you understand, and the process of mirroring and summarizing what has been said helps the speaker feel heard and understood.
Active listening skills can improve your communication with others at home and at work. With practice over time, anyone can become a better listener. EAC is a great resource for help with improving communication skills. Contact EAC to schedule an appointment with one of our clinical specialists!