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Active Listening

Steps and Instructions


Active Listening Steps

Although the feedback step is at the heart of active listening, to be effective, each of the following steps must taken:

  1. Look at the person, and suspend other things you are doing.
  2. Listen not merely to the words, but the feeling content.
  3. Be sincerely interested in what the other person is talking about.
  4. Restate what the person said.
  5. Ask clarification questions once in a while.
  6. Be aware of your own feelings and strong opinions.
  7. If you have to state your views, say them only after you have listened.

These steps, quoted from The Self Transformation Series, Issue no. 13, are simple; however, becoming skilled in active listening requires considerable practice after the purpose and steps are thoroughly explained and examples are analyzed.

Performing the steps effectively depends on skill in giving appropriate feedback and sending appropriate verbal and non-verbal signals.

Verbal Signals

  • 'I'm listening' cues
  • Disclosures
  • Validating Statements
  • Statements of Support
  • Reflection/mirroring Statements

Non-Verbal Signals

  • Good eye contact
  • Facial expressions
  • Body language
  • Silence
  • Touching2

Because most of us are occasionally guilty of sending messages that interfere with communication it should be especially helpful to review Gordon's 12 Roadblocks to Communication.

I have given only brief introduction to active listening here since an abundance of related Web pages explaining active listening are available. After hours of reading, I have created a list of those I considered the best. In this list I have also included several papers which do not focus active listening but might be useful for developing active listening lesson plans--one containing numerous examples of miscommunication between pilots and controllers demonstrating the life and death importance of being clearly understood, and two others showing examples of unacceptable verbal behaviors which we hear all too often. In addition, you will find a slide show explaining the use of active learning for problem behaviors.


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