Become an Active Listener

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438 words
Become an Active Listener
Contrary to what you may have heard, listening does not come easy for most people, yet it is one of the most important skills we can use on the job and in our personal relationships.
Hearing is a biological function, most people can hear unless they are hearing impaired. Listening, however, is a skill which takes active participation and conscious effort. Listening takes the words and sounds that we hear and interprets them. The importance of active listening cannot be overstated. In order to be effective on the job (and in life), you must develop your listening skills. This means being actively engaged with the person speaking by looking at them, asking questions, and reflecting back to them what you heard them say.
There are three main elements to active listening: tuning-in, asking questions, and reflecting on what the person has said. Tuning in means being fully present with the person and eliminating internal or external distractions. Asking questions involves posing thoughtful, relevant questions to further understand the other person's feelings or thoughts. And reflecting involves repeating back to them in your own words the facts, feelings, and underlying meaning of the words.
There are many benefits to becoming a good listener: better ability to help others, social acceptance and popularity, and the ability to avoid problems that result from a lack of listening. To listen more effectively, clear your mind, maintain an open body stance and good eye contact, pay attention to not only the logical content of the message, but also the emotional, and respond appropriately (by nodding, smiling, or asking a probing question).

Are You a Good Listener?
Answer each question Yes or No.
1.) I am able to empathize with other people's situations.
2.) I avoid interrupting other people when they are speaking.
3.) I avoid thinking of how I am going to respond to the conversation while someone is speaking.
4.) I give people my full attention when speaking with them.
5.) I do not try to tell "my story" as soon as someone tells me their story.
6.) I avoid thinking I know what the speaker is about to say.
7.) I maintain good eye contact and body language when speaking with someone.
8.) I ask a lot of questions when someone is talking with me.
9.) I reflect back feelings and facts, so I am sure I heard the person correctly.
10.) People often come to me just to talk.

If you answered "Yes" to seven or more questions, you are a good listener. If you answered "No" to five or more, you may need to work on your listening skills.

Get Smart!
ØListening is one of the most powerful communication tools we have available in our work toolbox.

About the Author

Michelle L. Casto, M.Ed. is a Whole Life Coach, Speaker, and Author of the Get Smart! LearningBook Series. She can be reached at
Contact her for your ree 30 minute coaching session!


Aaron 03.05.2011. 04:35

How do you learn to be a good and active listener? Whenever I'm talking to someone and the conversation doesn't directly pertain to me (or sometimes when it does, too) my attention tends to drift. And I come across as just non-caring. I try to pay attention and listen better, but then it all becomes layers- there's the layer of me listening to another person speak, and there's the layer of me thinking about listening to that person speak. Often times when I actually lose the second layer and tune in completely to what someone is saying, I have no control of how i'm responding with facial expressions and body language. Advice?


Admin 03.05.2011. 04:35

I think it is all too easy for any of us to be ego-centric,self-obsessed. Try to not be too inward looking and take an interest in what the speaker is saying. Ask the occasional question, learn to nod, to smile, make eye contact, but not stare. Social skills can be learned and what I have discovered is that more people talk about themselves than take an active interest in their listener. It has been proven that people who learn to cultivate the active skill of listening and taking a genuine interest in what the other is saying, often gain more friends and popularity than people who just bore and go on about themselves. It is not a good trait, in my opinion, as it is a form of self-centredness.


Aaron 03.04.2012. 12:38

Can someone please proofread my english expository prose? I've written approximately 430 words. Should i add more?

Thank you for your time :)

How to develop yourself as a student?

Personal development is the creation of an action plan based on a reflection of your personal, career, and academic objectives. Life is numerous accidents that acquainted you and miraculously, you survived by endorsing them and something magical happened. Furthermore, finding the will to improve yourself comes from exalting yourself and the approbation of your abilities instead of stymieing your proficiencies. The following plan has prioritized the most important aspects in which you need to concentrate on, and will guide you to the right direction to trigger your inner powers. To help ensure success for you as a student, you need to have a broad range of skills in time management, communication skills, and commitment.

Time is like a handful of sand, the lighter you grasp it, the faster it runs through your fingers. First, in order to manage your time you will need to start with a simple method, by creating a table of 2 columns and 2 rows; naming the first column ?Urgent? and second column ?Not urgent?, as well as naming the first row ?Important? and the second row ?Not important?. Second, before you fill in the table you should consider the following: the top left cell would symbolize the most important responsibility, the cell on the top right illustrates the second important priority, the cell on the bottom left indicates to the duty even less important, and the cell on the bottom right shows the least important job. Third, you must abolish the most important errands by yourself, and seeking assistance from other people to prohibit the rest. To sum up the first step, all you need to do is create a table and assign the tasks of the day by the emphasis of each one.

The second step would make you an agile communicator. Communication is the secret ingredient in the recipe to success. first off you will need to think wisely before you speak, and be an active listener who interacts with all parties. Moreover, making good eye contact and enunciating while talking attracts the audience and makes it easier to understand your perspective. Likewise, you must reflect emotions in your tone and use proper volume to uphold their affinity. Lastly, show confidence and be spontaneous, don?t forget who you are even if you face criticism. Communication is just like art, when you master it you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, and the emotions to affect other people.

There?s no abiding success without commitment. Firstly, you need to find your passion and set a tangible, lucid goal you would want to achieve on the short term, as well as the long term. Secondly, motivate yourself either by sharing your goal with someone, perhaps brainstorming novel ideas, and using repetitive affirmation words in order to hold you accountable for your accomplishments. Thirdly, have the patience to pervade each step thoroughly; good things come to those who wait. Commitment is an act, not a word; you should judge your words, actions, and habits for they become your values.

To conclude, remember you are a human being, not an object. Instead of focusing on the academic side entirely, try to sculpt your character as a whole. In addition, discard neglecting your mental and physical health, the energy they contain is beyond your vivid imagination. Lastly, don?t forget that nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive, and spiritual satisfaction.


Aaron 20.09.2012. 16:33

What advice can you give someone going into a Police Interview? About to into an interview to become a police officer. What advice, tips or suggestion can you offer me?

Thank you Les S


Admin 20.09.2012. 16:33

Learn as much as you can about the department you want to work for and the jurisdiction it serves. Practice your interview skills. There are several resources for sample interview questions. If you don't have much interview experience, consider having someone play the part of the interviewer, and do mock interviews. You could use a video camera, and record your interviews so that you can view yourself, and improve your skills. Get a good night's rest that night before the interview. Eat a healthy breakfast the morning of the interview. Make sure to dress appropriately. Be well-groomed. Don't be late. When shaking hands, use a firm grip, and make eye contact with the person you are shaking hands with. Your verbal communication and non-verbal communication (body language) will be observed, and are both important. A lot of communication is non-verbal. Don't figit. Don't appear too stiff. Don't play with your hands or objects. Don't tap your hands, feet, or anything else. Maintain good posture. Don't slouch. Sit up straight. Don't cross your arms. Use appropriate eye contact (consistent, not constant). Smile when appropriate. Appear confident, not cocky. Try to sound natural. Avoid Uh, Umm, etc. Be an active listener. Speak clearly, keep your answers appropriate, and don't go off on a tangent. Don't hesitate much, but think about what you are going to say before you say it. Be courteous and professional. Have a couple of good questions ready to ask your interviewer(s) if given the opportunity to ask questions. Best of luck!


Aaron 18.01.2012. 23:58

What do you think hip hop going to sound like 50 years from now? Think about it. Consider the people at the top right now; will they still be active (or alive), and what influences have they made on hip hop that will probably effect hip hop's future. What about the old school legends and rappers who are considered GOAT by a lot of today's listeners? Will people still be listening to them 50 years from now and using them as inspiration? What will the beats sound like, what will the themes of the lyrics be? Give me your thoughts.


Admin 18.01.2012. 23:58

Alot of "classic" albums will age badly, some will age good. People will still listen to older rap, its all preference. I think Electronic and Psychodelic hip hop genres will become more popular... here's an example of what i think will become big (Clams Casino) There won't be themes of lyrics... hip hop is way more diverse now compared to the 80's/90's people can rap about anything they want.


Aaron 06.11.2012. 17:35

How do you become a good listener? I'm not so good at listening to people. Especially in class I'm always thinking about stuff like life, the future, girls, and my grades. It just gets boring in classes most of the times.. cold and the teacher just talks. Anyone got a technique or something?


Admin 06.11.2012. 17:35

You have to force yourself to pay attention. It's kind of a skill or atalent. Maybe even an art.

It's not easy to do. You have to really focus on what's being said, and you have to notice when you start wandering and make yourself stop.

In class, try taking notes. Don't try to write everything the teacher says - you'll miss lots in the writing. Just write key words, follow along in your textbook if you have one, write page numbers and such.

Look up active listening, you'll find a lot of techniques that way.

It's hard to pay attention to stuff you don't really care about. Good luck.


Katherine 26.07.2008. 15:48

How do you become a better listener? What if you are really not interested it what the other person has to say Array


Admin 26.07.2008. 15:48

In a word, work at it. That means work at getting interested, if you need to. Consider the other person a mystery you want to solve. Ask polite questions about what she is saying to you. Practice "active listening," which means you repeat back bits and pieces of what she says, to assure that you hear d her right. Like: Her: "My Mom doesn't understand me." You: "So you don't think she understands you? Like with what?" "Yeah, she thinks I'm to young to date..."
Really when we are in a conversation we have three choices (1) Make and excuse and quit. (2) Listen and be bored and give of negative vibes (nonverbal signals). Or (3) listen and show some interest in what the other person is saying.
Often this is a matter of attitude, how you evaluate what is being said, how you are thinking about it, rather than the actual content of the conversation. If you are thinking, "Wow, that's really dumb," you're likely to get impatient. If you think, "I wonder why she feels that way?" you'll have more interest.


~~~Bethany~~~ 25.09.2007. 05:03

How can you become humble AND confident? I'm scared that I'm going to turn back to my arrogant ways....I'm trying to be more low key but, I don't feel as happy this way. I just don't know how to BE. Any suggestions?
I'm not mean
Thanks Ars and Lor!
hee hee thats funny


Admin 25.09.2007. 05:03

Wellm being arrogant and confident are too different things really.

Are you afraid of being too confident that you might feel cocky in some way or people might think of you as such?

In any matter that's usually the first mistake one makes when trying to balance being humble and confident.

Here's a couple Ideas to get you started:

~ Try going outside to your front yard prefably early evening with a boombox and turn up some funky music and dance to it with maybe a friend or two. Turn it up LOUD. (not too much but enough to where maybe someone across the way could hear the music softly to grab their attention). This can help you loosen up your inhibitions about vicitmizing yourself to being so stiff and self-conscious. Let people see you dance to that funky music...and yes it has to be funky music. That type of genre was designed to get people to get up and start dancing. I even did hula hooping to it. This should greatly pump up your confidence level.

~Actively listen. This can help your subconscious realize how humble you really are and it will let the person your listening to notice the same. By asking question and showing that your vulnerable too can really help bring a perspective that hey I may be confident, but I' m human too.

~This is gonna sound funny but watch some college or professional sport mascot videos (yes mascot) Watch how they strut and walk, watch how funny they are, how confident. I know absurd but it can really help train yourself to be very confident and be the life of the party!

~ Lastly, do NOT give in to people who tell you that your too cocky or a bitch (excuse me greatly) In several classes I took, it's been researched that many people feel threatened by confident people especially when they are insecure themselves. Only you can distinguish if your cocky or not and believe me you'll notice the difference because while many think your a humble and confident woman there will be that one individual who will think otherwise.

Being humble and confident can be a balance issue especially when you had aweful past experiences of not being so. The best way to do it is to be an active listener, take a deep breath and let go of your inhibitions, and well just do something because you know you want to and do go and not do it because someone else might think low of you.

I hope those sugesstions help you!.


theultimatedragon666 10.02.2006. 04:20

How can I start an interesting coversation and make her my friend? I met a beautiful girl, and I want to be friends with her first and then maybe ask her out.But Im very shy and quiet.I need serious help getting girls to be my friends.I have no confidence.Im so depressed because I don't have the courage talk to girls and be friends with them or get girlfriends.I'm very jelous of every guy that has a beautiful,caring,fun,loving girl as their friend or girlfriend.


Admin 10.02.2006. 04:20

Ask yourself is the possibility of getting this girl worth the effort of overcoming your insecurities and shyness? Is holding her, seeing her smile, laugh, waking up to see her face in the morning worth putting for effort to change? You're the only one that can actually do that, though here is a little advice that may help you in talking to her:

To keep the other person interested in a conversation don't talk about yourself too much. Ask questions to get to know the person better, talk about any interests you have, classes, guys/girls, parents, etc. Become genuinely interested in the other person.

There are lots of ways to start a conversation; keeping yourself informed on current events, staying involved in activities, and keeping a mental list of good topics of discussion are excellent ways to break the ice. Ask simple, friendly questions about the person.

Also remember that body language is very important! Most people don?t even realize it but most times you?ll already have made a lot of decisions about the person by their body language and tone, before you?re more than a minute into a conversation. You want to be cool, calm, and collected; act like the person is an old friend, even if you?ve never talked to them before, and make sure to look them in the eye. Instead of focusing on how uncomfortable you feel, prepare yourself by thinking of the issues that interest you most and what you would like to discuss about a particular subject. A little preparation can go a long way.

Pay Attention to what the other person says! This one is Extremely useful as you can bring it up at a later time and the other person will be surprised and pleased that you remembered.

Continue to speak to everyone you know regularly. If you are walking and see someone you haven?t talked to in a while, stop for a moment and talk to them. It does not have to be a long conversation, just say hello, see how they are doing and if anything is wrong. You would be surprised by how little effort is required to win the friendship of others when you require nothing of them.

Be nice and generally try to end the conversation on a good note. You don't have to make sure the other person has a great time Every Single conversation, but you don't want to think of all the petty arguements they've had with you.

Arguements... Don't. There are Very Few 'good' arguements. "The only way to get the berst of an arguement is to avoid it."
If you're wrong, admit it.

DO NOT critize the person, or a friend, when talking to the person. If you want to point out something they did wrong, try to point out something similar you did wrong.

Smile! Not a forced smile, the person you're talking to will be able to tell the difference. And you don't have to be an overly happy hyper-active person. Just smile naturally and, if you can, be somewhat happy. Remembering good times with your friends/family can help.

Let the other person do a lot of the talking and be a good listener. (Somewhat stated in my first advice, ask questions, talk about interests the other person has. Answer questions sincerly.)

Honestly make the person you're talking to feel important. You don't want to fake this one or do it too often, but if you honestly think they did something well, give them that praise.

As for the no being able to relate to others because you don't drink of dance... You're not the only one, a lot of people don't enjoy the bar and club scenes, you'll find others that feel the same way. If the people you want to hang out with do goto these places you can go with them everyonce in a while. You really don't need experience to be with friends at most of them.

If you want more advice, there are a couple good books that Will actually help. How to Win Friends and Influence People, is probably one of the best ones. It's an old book, but trust me, it's just as useful today as it was when it was written.

I had one friend tell me recently that the way they dealt with being shy was to convince herself that talking was a competition with her own insecurities as the enemy. Thinking that way and forcing herself not to give in to her fears. It must've worked wonders because I never would've thought of her as having ever been shy.



poisonedflower 05.02.2013. 16:19

Tips for coping with and supporting a chronically depressed spouse? My husband suffers from chronic severe Depression. He is currently on medication but it does not seem to be working and he is waiting to be scheduled for therapy, therapy in the past has not worked. He hates himself vehemently and no matter how much he succeeds at work or how good he is as a father and a husband and my God he is amazing (he is also highly intelligent and very talented in several areas) he still viciously despises himself, he cannot even look in the mirror and has terrible self-mutilating nightmares. His self hatred started in childhood very early and he is now 32. I could really use some tips on how to support him, how to be a good listener, and just how to cope with his illness (it is really hard not to blame myself and take everything personally). He suffers chronic pain in addition and finds exercise often excruciating (he is and can be active he just can't do that sort of repetitious working out).


Admin 05.02.2013. 16:19

Neurontin/gabapentin can take away the chronic pain and works as a mood stabilizer as well, it doesn't cause weight gain or sexual dysfunction and is well tolerated with the antidepressants.

Antidepressants, namely the SSRIs and SNRIs take 4-6 weeks to become fully effective for anxiety and depression. If he isn't getting relief after that, then he's on the wrong medication and needs to switch to another. There are no problems switching among the SSRIs even though some work in fundamentally different ways.

Often, adding Wellbutrin to an antidepressant works far better than the antidep alone. Wellbutrin neutralizes weight gain and improves libido, it boosts dopamine, whereas other antideps do not.

Cognitive behavioral therapy has an 80-90% full recovery rate with the depressive and anxiety disorders. It's the most successful treatment available right now. Worked for me when nothing else did.


Frances 06.03.2011. 14:22

Why do people say that classical music and heavy metal music are very similar? I don't see very big similarity, I asked this in Rock and Pop section and they didn't explain very well. But anyway, they always claim that these two genres and very very similar. I heard somewhere that heavy metal music is just classical music, but with different instruments.. How is that possible?
But Rachel, it shows how fans are similar, but not the musical structure of the music.


Admin 06.03.2011. 14:22

Here is the only true similarity between any of the genres listed in that study mentioned in the first answer (interesting, but it doesn't tell you a thing about MUSIC, which is I suppose very scientific!)

Heavy metal requires more concentrated listening than say, regular pop rock and roll. The Fanatics of heavy metal / prog-rock / neoclassical pop always cite a list of theory-technical elements such as: synthetic scales; poly-rhythms; counterpoint, etc. whenever they drop a Q on their favored musical genre in the classical category. They usually seem to be begging for recognition from the classical musician's fold that 'their' music is as good (or sophisticated, or complex) as classical music. (They want a stamp of equality approval.) Jazz fans seem much more secure, or insulated :-)

All of those musics do require a more attentive listening to music which depends on interactivity of notes to make meaning for the listener. No song text present, no textual association, no 'illustrative' intent - just music.

Much of music of this type is not melody-driven with a few clear and simple harmonies underneath. It is instead a cloth of many threads, all of which must be followed (simultaneously) before the fabric entire and any patterns woven therein become evident.

Call it 'intellectual - active'' listening vs. 'emotive - passive' listening.

[ There is even a subdivision within the community who do listen almost exclusively to classical music. The general orchestral or opera repertoire, all larger ensemble works, vs. music requiring only a few players, Chamber Music (string quartets, etc.), Lied / Chanosn (song). The music using less players is often more 'absolute' and abstract than the larger ensemble works, and often is not consumed by the devoted, but more casual, classical music listener. ]

What all those people in that study do share, regardless of their preference for one musical genre over another, is an aggressivee and intellectual way of listening to music of the 'absolute' type.

Each group has been drawn to a music which requires / demands that type of listening. Past that, it may be partially true one type or another better suits a certain individual emotional pathology, but I will leave that theory and its burning need for a truth to the sociologists and pscologists who need to write papers to keep their jobs in academe.

Since the question affords the opportunity, I have to say that whatever intricacy, complexity, or sophistication the more popular genres (heavy metal / prog-rock / neoclassical pop / jazz) may have, they have less and much later than what the classical genre has been offering for over one-hundred years. Citing one piece which will be one-hundred years old at the end of 2013, Stravinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps, blows all counter-argument from the other genres out of the water.

Hence, too, the adage, "Jazz and Chamber Music are not for everybody."

((-: Q: do I get the $90.000 grant now? :-))

Best regards.


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