Active listening is the act of dedicating your full attention to another person during a conversation. No matter who you are, or what setting you work in, active listening is one of the most important skills to foster in any successful relationship. Whether you’re engaging with colleagues, supervisors, or potential clients, it demonstrates that you care about the conversation at hand. If you show genuine interest in what others have to say, you validate their ideas and contribute to a collaborative environment.

Listening is a key part of obtaining information and understanding others. While it’s easy to “hear” something in passing, active listening entails consciously processing what the speaker communicates. Studies show that on average we remember between 25-50% of what we hear, which means a lot can slip through the cracks (Mindtools, 2021). Active listening, just like any other skill, needs practice!

Active Listening Techniques

When you engage in active listening you are doing more than just “hearing” what the other person has to say. Think of it as completely focusing on the content of the conversation, rather than being a passive or distracted audience. Engage through body language, verbal feedback, and eye contact to signal that you are present and interested.

Unsure how to practice active listening? There are many techniques you can adopt to improve your active listening skills.

Non-Verbal Techniques

If you’re having a conversation in-person, you can show you’re listening through non-verbal cues. Body language can be just as important as spoken language!

Smile – Create a positive and non-threatening atmosphere by simply smiling at the speaker. Of course, you can adjust your expression to fit the content of the conversation, but let the speaker know you’re open and friendly.

Nod – A great way to signal you are absorbing the conversation is to nod periodically. This affirms that you are processing what the other person has to say.

Open Body Language – Sit or stand facing the speaker with a relaxed demeanor. Make sure they know they have your full attention, and refrain from turning away or shifting around. 

Eye Contact – This is a big one when participating in active listening. Maintaining eye contact is key to make the other person feel heard, seen, and validated while they are speaking.

Calm Demeanor – Although it can be difficult to give someone your full attention, show the speaker you are paying attention to their words and try to refrain from fidgeting or glancing around. If your thoughts begin to wander, bring your attention back to the present moment.  

Verbal Techniques

Since so many meetings take place over the phone these days, it’s important to brush-up on your verbal active listening skills as well. The key is to be patient, and focus on the other person’s words, rather than jumping in with your own reactions or suggestions.

Acknowledge – Start with small acknowledgements such as “uh huh,” “yes,” and “I see.” Don’t overdo it, and allow the speaker to know you are actively participating in the conversation.

Repeat ­– Echo key ideas back to the speaker. This doesn’t need to be a word-for-word repetition, but reiterating the speaker’s words shows that you are processing what they have to say.

Summarize – When the speaker has finished, you can demonstrate your comprehension by summarizing the important aspects of the conversation. Start with something like “so what I’m hearing is” or “what I understand is.” Let the speaker know you remember what they said.

Ask Questions ­– Gentle, thoughtful questions are an excellent way to further the dialogue and indicate your investment in the conversation. This shows you have processed the information and are eager to engage further.

The Benefits of Active Listening

Active listening will benefit you in all areas of life! In the workplace, it makes a huge difference in professional relationships. 

Earn Trust – Active listening makes the speaker feel valued and understood. This promotes an environment of mutual trust and respect. This is especially important in client relationships, as it signals you respect the client’s needs and concerns.

Collaborate – It’s impossible to form a truly collaborative team when members don’t feel like their voices are heard. Active listening is a way of obtaining information, and expressing your desire to work with others.

Build Patience – Part of working with others is learning to be patient. Active listening minimizes snap reactions and quick retorts, and helps you gain insight into what the other is trying to say.

Avoid Missing Key Information – Active listening involves repeating and remembering what the other person said during a conversation. The act of repetition solidifies the important points, so it’s easier to avoid misunderstandings and to recall essential information.

Building Connections

Above all, active listening helps build connections. In today’s business world, this is more important than ever. At LeadJen, we offer personalized SDR services, marketing campaigns and B2B appointments. Our goal is to generate leads that meet revenue goals through genuine connections and strategic partnerships. Our team promises an environment where your specific needs are met, so you feel heard and valued on an individual basis. Contact us to learn more about our services

Active listening creates a positive impact in any workplace. When you practice this kind of listening you build trust in others, form strong relationships, and collaborate more successfully. With these techniques and tips, it’s never too late to build connections and practice active listening in your professional life!