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3.1: Active Listening

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    Active listening is a way of listening and responding to another person so that the message is fully understood. The following are several techniques that you can use to demonstrate active listening. The techniques you use will vary depending on the situation. For example, active listening during a lecture will require different techniques than active listening about a personnel matter at the job.


    Eliminate distractions. Shut off shop equipment, radios, or other competing sounds. Try to put personal problems aside. Limit engagement in other activities such as texting or working on other assignments. If you are having difficulty concentrating, use techniques to keep your mind from wandering. This may include taking very brief notes or jotting down questions you might want to ask at the appropriate time.


    Put yourself inside the speaker’s thoughts and feelings to better understand what he or she is saying to you. Suspend your own judgment and position until you clearly understand the other person’s perspective.

    Listen for feelings

    Try to “listen between the lines” to understand the attitudes, needs, and motives behind the words. Changes in volume and tone, as well as non-verbal clues such as facial expressions and gestures, can help you determine how the speaker is feeling.


    Use “listener-friendly” body language: make eye contact with the speaker or focus on the audio or visual presentation at hand. Try to connect the information you are hearing with what you may have previously learned or already know. Pay attention to any visuals that may accompany the audio, such as, an instructor writing on a board or asking you to look at a visual in your textbook or online while they continue speaking.


    Even if you don’t agree with what the speaker is saying, it is important that the person knows you are listening and that you understand what they have said. Use nods and “uh-huhs” and respectful comments that show you have heard what was said.


    When the speaker has finished talking, repeat in your own words what the speaker said so they know they have been understood.


    Ask questions to get more information, especially if you’re not clear on what was said. It is important to take your cues from the presenter on when to ask questions. While some instructors may ask you to interrupt and ask questions at any time, others may ask you to hold questions until the appropriate time.


    Participate in discussions and respond to questions.

    Now complete the Learning Task Self-Test.

    This page titled 3.1: Active Listening is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Camosun College (BC Campus) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.