Practice Active Listening Before Using It

Active listening is the process of attending to the content of what the speaker is saying, being open to his or her feelings, and checking one’s own reactions and assumptions so that one can respond appropriately. In other words, it is a way of paying attention to what the other person is saying, without becoming distracted or thinking of how you want to respond next.

Why is Active Listening Important?

Active listening is important because 

1. It shows the other person that you care, you are interested in what they are saying, and that you want to understand them better. 

2. This can help you to create stronger, more meaningful relationships with your friends, family members, and colleagues.

3. If you are having a disagreement, it can help you to understand where the other person is coming from and to find possible solutions.

Exercise 1: Becoming aware of your breathing

When you are listening attentively to someone, you will notice that your breathing changes. It will become faster, more shallow, and louder. When you notice that this is happening, try to slow down your breathing, breathe more deeply, and make your breath quieter again. This will help you to concentrate on the person who is speaking to you. 

Exercise 2: Becoming aware of your body

As you are listening to someone, make sure that you are relaxed and that you are not making any stiff or tense movements. Put your feet on the ground and make sure that your body is in a relaxed position. If you are sitting, make sure that you are not crossing your arms, legs, or any other body parts. Crossing your arms might make you feel more defensive, and crossing legs might make you feel bored. 

Exercise 3: Check in with your emotions

When you are actively listening to someone, stop and check in with your emotions. Observe how you feel and how close you are to the other person. If you feel like the other person is really close to you but you are feeling angry, sad, or excited, try to calm your emotions down. It is not necessary to share your feelings with the person who is speaking to you. You can just observe your feelings and emotions, use them for your own personal growth, and let them go. When you are sharing your emotions with the other person, make sure that you are not interrupting them. Wait until they are finished talking before you start sharing your emotions.

Exercise 4: Summing up

After the person who is speaking to you has finished, summarize what they have said so that you are sure that you have heard and understood their message correctly. By practicing these active listening exercises, you will become less self-absorbed and more focused on the needs of others. You will become a better listener who uses non-verbal clues, reflects back on what is being said, and responds appropriately.

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