Active Listening and How to Become a Better Listener

What Is Active Listening?

Active listening is an essential interpersonal skill that involves paying full attention to what someone is saying. It is a technique used to establish rapport, understand and empathize with the speaker in communication. Active listening requires an active listener who listens with their ears, eyes, and mind. This means the listener focuses all of their attention on the speaker and shows engagement in the conversation.

One of the ways an active listener demonstrates this is by providing eye contact. The goal is to make the speaker feel heard and understood. To practice active listening, one must make an effort to understand the speaker’s perspective, refrain from judgment, and ask clarifying questions to improve understanding. As a result, active listening helps to build trust, improves communication, and forms strong connections in personal and professional relationships.

Practice listening skills in a virtual escape room

Why is Active Listening Difficult?

Active listening can be difficult because it requires one to not only hear what the person is saying, but also pay attention to the tone, body language, and emotions being conveyed. It can be challenging to remain mentally focused on the speaker without getting distracted by one’s own thoughts or external stimuli.

Additionally, it may be difficult to fully understand and process what the person is saying if their language or communication style is different from one’s own. Active listening also involves withholding judgment and avoiding the urge to interrupt or redirect the conversation. Overall, active listening requires a significant amount of concentration and effort to truly understand and engage with what the person is saying.

Becoming an Active Listener

Becoming an active listener means that you must be able to focus not just on the words being spoken, but also the body language of the speaker. Techniques you can use to become an effective listener include using appropriate facial expressions and nodding to encourage the speaker to continue. You can also paraphrase or clarify certain points to show that you understand the message being conveyed.

Asking questions is an excellent way to obtain more information and show interest. These techniques will help you become an active listener and show the speaker that you are genuinely interested in what they have to say. Remember that non-verbal cues and body language can sometimes tell you more than the words themselves. By paying attention to these cues and practicing active listening techniques, you can become a more effective communicator and build stronger connections with those around you.

How Can We Improve Active Listening Skills?

 Improving active listening skills requires effort and practice. The goal of active listening is to fully understand the message being conveyed by the speaker, and to show them that their message is important to you. One way to improve active listening skills is to eliminate distractions and focus solely on the speaker. Another important aspect is to avoid interrupting the speaker and refrain from thinking about your response while the other person is still speaking. To show attentiveness and comprehension, one can nod or provide brief verbal affirmations.

It is also important to ask questions for clarification, demonstrating that you are truly interested in understanding their message. By actively listening, individuals can build stronger relationships and make better decisions by clearly understanding the thoughts and feelings of others.

Active Listening Example

 In an example of active listening, let’s say a person is having a conversation with a friend who is sharing a personal experience. Active listening in this scenario would involve focusing on what the friend is saying and not interrupting or interjecting with one’s own thoughts or opinions. The listener would also make a conscious effort to maintain eye contact and show nonverbal cues like nodding your head or a concerned facial expression to indicate that they are engaged in the conversation.

Additionally, the listener may ask clarifying questions to ensure they have understood the key points of the friend’s story. Periods of silence during the conversation can also indicate active listening as they allow the speaker to gather their thoughts and continue sharing without interruption. By actively listening in this way, the friend can feel heard and supported while strengthening the bond between them and the listener.

Active Listening Techniques

 Active listening requires the use of several techniques to fully engage with the person speaking. Techniques like maintaining eye contact and using appropriate body language. Open-ended questions can be used to elicit more information, while paraphrasing helps to ensure understanding. Nodding and clarifying can also show the speaker that you are fully engaged with what they are saying while encouraging the speaker to continue. 

Try repeating their words and matching their tone of voice. It is important to listen with full attention to the speaker, but don’t keep too much eye contact or they will become uncomfortable and possibly lose track of what they’re saying. Using both verbal and non-verbal cues such as facial expressions will show that you’re hearing what’s being said. Active listening involves making the person feel heard and understood, and by utilizing these techniques, it is possible to improve communication and build stronger relationships.

Why Active Listening Is Important

Active listening is important because it allows us to understand and connect with others on a deeper level. The ability to listen attentively requires us to engage with the speaker, paying attention to what they say and responding appropriately. Active listening also involves asking open-ended questions, which invites the speaker to provide more information and share their thoughts and feelings.

By using open-ended questions, we can gain a better understanding of the speaker’s perspective and avoid making assumptions. Additionally, clarification is essential during active listening, as it helps to clarify any misunderstandings or confusion. Body language is also crucial during active listening, as it can convey our interest and attention to the speaker. In summary, actively listening to others can foster better communication, strengthen relationships, and promote mutual understanding.

Verbal Signs of Attentive or Active Listening

 Verbal signs of attentive or active listening can be observed through specific behaviors of the listener. A listener will usually say something like “right” or “I see” to show their interest. Moreover, a listener can also paraphrase the speaker’s message to ensure that they have understood the key points accurately. Asking questions about certain points can also demonstrate that the listener is attentive and engaged with the speaker. Active listening involves the use of effective interpersonal skills to encourage them to continue their message.

Additionally, a good listener should avoid interrupting the speaker and redirect the conversation back to the speaker if they find that they are losing focus on the message. It isn’t necessary to finish their sentences if they’re taking a few seconds of silence to think. Use neutral and non-judgmental phrases to affirm parts of the message you agree with. Overall, verbal signs of attentive or active listening are critical tools for both the listener and the communicator to build strong connections and enhance their communication skills.

Non-Verbal Active Listening

Non-verbal active listening is the act of listening attentively and providing feedback without audibly saying anything. This type of listening involves paying attention to the speaker’s body language, facial expressions and tone of voice, rather than just their words. Non-verbal feedback like nodding your head or resting it on your hands, maintaining eye contact, or mirroring the speaker’s body language, shows that the listener is engaged and interested in what the speaker is saying.

Non-verbal active listening is important because it helps the listener to understand the speaker’s message better, as it enables them to pick up on subtle nuances that may not be communicated through words alone. It also helps to build a sense of trust and connection between the listener and speaker, as it shows that the listener is actively invested in the conversation. 

The Benefits of Active Listening

Active listening refers to the ability to concentrate on what a person is saying without distraction, showing interest, and providing feedback. One of the primary benefits of active listening is that it helps build trust between individuals. When we are fully present and engaged in what a person is saying, they are more likely to feel heard and understood. Additionally, being an attentive listener allows us to ask questions and seek clarification, leading to a better understanding of the speaker’s ideas and viewpoints.

Regularly practicing active listening can also improve our communication skills, increase our emotional intelligence, and strengthen relationships or even lead to workplace success. Therefore, it is essential to learn to become an active listener to enhance our daily interactions with others. By doing so, we can improve our understanding of different perspectives, develop empathy, and foster more meaningful connections.


Listening is a skill, and to improve your listening will help you become a better communicator. Engaging in active listening is an important method to learn in order to show that you’re really listening to what’s being said. Hopefully this article helped in articulating the relationship between a speaker and listener, and how to retain the information from the messages being received during your conversation or lecture. Learn active listening techniques and improve your active listening skills in order to get the most out of your conversations with others and help hear them out.