3 ways to actively listen

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3 ways to actively listen
3 ways to actively listen

If you want to engage in deeper conversations, listening with your full attention helps you better understand the topic. Even if you consider yourself a good listener, sometimes it is difficult to interact with another person. Fortunately, you can do a few things to stay focused on what the other person is saying. This article starts with some tips on body language and then moves on to things you can say to make the other person feel heard.


Method 1 of 12: Eliminate distractions

Actively Listen Step 1
Actively Listen Step 1

Step 1. Give the other person your undivided attention to show respect

When you go to have a conversation, put your phone away, turn off the TV, and don't look around the room. Put aside what you are working on, if that is the case, so that you are not tempted to fiddle or lose focus. If you are in a noisy room, see if it is possible to move to a slightly quieter place to avoid background noises.

  • This also applies to mental distractions (eg, having a fixation on the speaker's manner or daydreaming).
  • It's okay to have quick, casual conversations from one end of the room to the other anyway, but you should move and look at the person who is speaking if they are going to do it for a long time.

Method 2 of 12: Maintain eye contact

Actively Listen Step 2
Actively Listen Step 2

Step 1. Look at the other person while they are talking so they know you are focused

It's okay to look away from time to time, but you should try to keep most of your focus on the person's face. This will make them establish a deeper connection and give them your undivided attention.

  • It can be difficult to make eye contact if you are shy or insecure, so try to focus on the space between the eyebrows or the person's mouth. You can even practice making eye contact with yourself in the mirror.
  • In some cultures, prolonged eye contact is taboo and rude. Learn the customs of the person you are talking to so you don't make them uncomfortable.

Method 3 of 12: Lean toward the person

Actively Listen Step 3
Actively Listen Step 3

Step 1. If you lean back and cross your arms, you give the impression of not being interested

Instead, lean your body toward the person speaking so that you are more attentive and can hear them better. Keep your arms at your sides to help you look more open and receptive to what he is going to say.

Stay aware of your body language throughout the conversation and correct your posture if you find that you have closed yourself off

Method 4 of 12: Smile and nod

Actively Listen Step 4
Actively Listen Step 4

Step 1. Encourage the other person to keep talking through simple facial expressions

Be aware of your facial expressions so that you don't appear to be disapproving or upset by accident. Instead, give her a friendly smile and nod at what she says to show that you understand. With a little encouragement, you will make the speaker more comfortable about opening up and really saying what is on his or her mind.

Make sure your facial expressions match the tone of the conversation. For example, you probably shouldn't smile if they're talking about relationship problems or another difficult topic

Method 5 of 12: Make short verbal affirmations

Actively Listen Step 5
Actively Listen Step 5

Step 1. Saying something like "Aha" or "I understand" keeps you engaged

If there is a short pause, let the listener know with a short, positive phrase. Be careful not to speak over her or interrupt her. She will understand that you understand her and will be comfortable with delving deeper into the conversation. Here are other things you can try to say:

  • "Well".
  • "Keep going".
  • "Ah?"
  • "What happened after?".

Method 6 of 12: Don't be judgmental

Actively Listen Step 6
Actively Listen Step 6

Step 1. Let the other person speak their minds so that you hear their perspective

Even if you don't totally agree with her, avoid letting your personal biases get in the way of what she says. Don't belittle the speaker or assert your opinions, but instead keep an open mind and try to imagine things from their point of view. Focus on her perspective on the topic and let her describe what she thinks.

  • Get rid of any assumptions you have on the subject and approach the conversation with curiosity. This will allow you to expose yourself to new points of view that you may not have considered before.
  • Check the person's body language to see if they are experiencing any underlying emotions. For example, if she thinks you promised to do your housework in the morning and didn't do it, she may be a little upset.

Method 7 of 12: Stop thinking about what to say next

Actively Listen Step 7
Actively Listen Step 7

Step 1. Thinking on your side of the conversation is more distracting

Don't wait for your turn to speak but instead block those thoughts until the other person finishes. Listen to her fully until she has nothing more to say so that you can fully reflect on her opinion on the subject.

Try not to obsess over how you are going to respond to something minor that the person says. Instead, listen to their entire side of the conversation so you can better understand their point of view

Method 8 of 12: Let it finish without interrupting

Actively Listen Step 8
Actively Listen Step 8

Step 1. Don't interrupt the other person so as not to appear rude

Although you may want to point out something the person says on the spot, keep it to yourself until they have explained everything. If he pauses in the middle of a sentence, let him collect his thoughts and finish instead of interrupting. When it is your turn in the conversation, consider everything the person has said before bringing up your points.

Try not to rush the other person into what they say. Let her go over the details she wants to cover, as it could be important to the way she feels

Method 9 of 12: Ask open-ended questions for clarification

Actively Listen Step 9
Actively Listen Step 9

Step 1. Encourage the person to speak more so that you can understand them better

Also, open-ended questions show that you have been listening to the points the person made and that you have a genuine interest in understanding them. Here are some questions you can try:

  • "What did you mean by that?"
  • "What are some other possibilities?"
  • "How else could you explain it?"
  • "What alternatives have you considered?"
  • Be careful when asking "why" questions, as they may make the other person more defensive. For example, the question "Why would you think that?" It might sound like you're questioning the person's feelings.

Method 10 of 12: Repeat their points in your own words

Actively Listen Step 10
Actively Listen Step 10

Step 1. Repeat things she said to make sure you heard her correctly

It's okay if you don't fully understand, as the other person can correct you while summarizing what they said.

  • For example, you could say, "Let me see if it's clear to me: it bothered you that I didn't do the dishes in the morning. Is that correct?"
  • As another example, you could say, "So you're angry because I made plans for the weekend without consulting you. Did I get it right?"

Method 11 of 12: Validate the other person's feelings

Actively Listen Step 11
Actively Listen Step 11

Step 1. Show empathy to show that you really care

It takes a lot of courage to open up and really talk about things. Therefore, you must convey to the person that you understand their emotions. Avoid getting defensive or trying to question her, and instead convey that her feelings are valid and justified. It doesn't matter that you don't completely agree with her, but this still makes the person feel like you care and shows that you listened to what she said.

  • For example, you could say, "I fully understand why that situation frustrated you."
  • As another example, you could say, "I sense that you are upset, and that makes a lot of sense."

Method 12 of 12: Don't give advice

Actively Listen Step 12
Actively Listen Step 12

Step 1. The other person may not be asking you for a solution to their problem

Don't try to solve the problem they are going through but instead just listen and validate their experiences. You don't need to tell him about a similar experience you've had or offer help if he doesn't want it. Before giving him any advice, make sure you fully understand his perspective and ask him if he wants a helpful answer.

For example, you could say, "I understand what you are saying. Can I do something to help, or do you just want to vent?"


It's okay if there are silences or pauses in the conversation. Take the time to really reflect on what the person said before responding to them


  • Don't tell jokes or make sarcastic comments while the other person is talking. This could be distracting and detract from your emotions.
  • If someone doesn't want to share information when you try to delve deeper into the conversation, avoid forcing them to speak. You may find the topic uncomfortable or you want to keep it private.
  • Do your best not to get defensive about what someone says. If you disagree with him, try to see things from his point of view.

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