Active Listening

It involves paying attention and tracking what others are saying.

Some useful tactics

- use body language and verbal responses to indicate you are focusing on what is being said:

"...nodding your head, leaning forward, or watching the person's eyes, as well as phrases like 'yes', 'uh-huh', and 'okay, I see'..."

Johan Berger, 2020

These are the glue that hold the conversations together

- ask open-ended questions

"... Questions get discussion going and build trust.....Not only show people you're listening but generate details and information that can be helpful later..."

Johan Berger, 2020

Generally, the more questions you ask, the more you are liked.

"...questions.....collect useful information so people can better understand their conversation partners..."

Johan Berger, 2020

Some examples of open-ended questions include

    i) can you tell me more?

    ii) how did that happen?

Some other types of questions

    i) 'why questions' (can make people feel defensive or feel like they are being interrogated)

    ii) 'yes-no' questions (encourage one word answers and are less effective as they fail to advance the conversation.)

(for more details, see other parts of the knowledge base, ie questions)

- harness effective pauses

"...pauses harness the power of silence. Silence can be uncomfortable, so people tend to fill in conversational space......Pauses also focus attention. Pausing just before or after saying something important breeds anticipation and encourages listeners to focus on what the communicator is saying..."

Johan Berger, 2020

- reflect what you heard (mirroring & paraphrasing)

"...Mirroring involves repeating the last few words of what someone has said to show you're listening and engaged. Particularly if someone is feeling emotional, it encourages them to keep talking and gives them the opportunity to vent...... mirroring builds liking and affiliation while keeping the conversation flowing..."

Johan Berger, 2020

Paraphrasing refers restating someone's meaning using your own words. This shows you are listening and understanding what has been said.

- label emotions

In addition to facts and figures, you need to understand the underlying emotional issues.

"...Emotional labeling helps identify the issues and feelings that are driving someone's behaviour..."

Johan Berger, 2020


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