What is Active Listening?

Definition: Active listening is a skill that allows an individual to engage with the speaker more effectively by paying special attention to the conversation. It allows the person to draw information that is not being explicitly disclosed by observing and asking questions adequately.

What Does Active Listening Mean?

Active listening is, also, a process where the conversation is used not only to be informed about a subject, but it is also employed as a source to further the disclosure of the topic being discussed. During a given conversation, an active listener will pay special attention to non-verbal communication and to underlying ideas and conceptions behind what is being said. As the listener, he will also display some non-verbal signs to communicate that he is fully concentrated on the verbal exchange. Some of these signs are: eye contact, smiling, agreeing with a head movement or an inclined-forward posture that creates a sense of “you have my full attention”.

The ultimate purpose of active listening is to understand the speaker’s intentions, requirements, feelings and ideas properly to elaborate the most adequate response. Also, an active listener often gets more information than a passive or a distracted one. This skill is extremely useful in work environments and it is considered a transferable or a “soft skill”. Active listeners tend to be also good at interpersonal skills.

Example

Garret is the head of the Marketing Department of a company called Cigar Mugs Co. The company designs and manufactures coffee mugs to be retailed and they also create stylish designs for coffee stores. Currently, there is a new client that is close to sign a big agreement with the company to purchase all the coffee mugs for his 20 coffee stores.

Since the client is very demanding, Garret’s boss decided to appoint him as the link between the client and the company’s designers. Garret has an excellent reputation of being an active listener and he is expected to pay full attention to the customer’s requirements in order to catch every detail of what he desires.

Garret will use clarification and constant feedback to make sure he’s getting the client’s idea properly and then, he will communicate this idea to the designers, being careful not to miss anything about what the client wants.