Conversational skills – Active listening

Active listening – ( Attentive listening ): This is a very important aspect of conversational skills. Active listening is a core aspect of a good conversation as well as good communication. When you are listening attentively you are actually paying a complement to the person speaking without saying anything. With active listening you gain peoples confidence, receive the right information and can influence peoples thoughts and actions if need be. 

When to listen attentively:

  • When the information being provided will enable you make an informed decision, take action or meet certain needs.
  • In an emotional situation where there maybe a level of sadness or misunderstanding, or even the opposite -when someone is expressing excitement about something or an achievement. 
  • When the other party is someone important to us i.e husband, wife, child, boss or even a friend. In other words anyone we want to show respect or make them feel valued and important.

How to listen attentively: To be an active listener you will need to pay attention, empty your mind and concentrate on what the other person is saying – Ways to do this effectively include the following:

  • Eye contact:  Maintain regular relaxed eye contact ( do not stare ) while you are listening it shows you are paying attention.
  • Body language: Do not appear restless and eager to finish the conversation. Maintain a positive body language such as being relaxed and giving your uninterrupted attention, nodding and responding when you have to.
  • Not cutting in to finish the sentence: Do not cut in to finish the sentence while the other person is still speaking. This may discourage them from completing what they want to say and you may end up with the wrong information from what the other party wanted to say
  • Repeat what has been said for clarification: To avoid any misunderstanding it is advisable to repeat what has been said for clarification especially when it involves making a decision or taking action.

In conclusion, it is important to note that when you pay more attention, listen and respond better to others, they will also listen and respond better to you. It also allows for a more effective communication because we are better informed.

Finally friend – for once, shut up and listen. Its not always about you!!!

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