Active Listening

Author – Paul Newton, Helen Bristoll

Why it’s worth reading: Good overview of the benefits and techniques of active listening.

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Description

Talking to other people one-to-one makes up a significant proportion of the total amount of communication that you are involved in each day. Active listening will reduce the chance of misunderstandings, help to solve problems, and allow you to take advantage of opportunities you may have previously missed. This free eBook describes what active listening is and how it can make you a more effective manager.

Chapter 1 – Active Listening Skills for Managers
Active listening is a straightforward technique that you can use to improve your communication skills. It involves listening for meaning, in a neutral and non-judgmental way.

Chapter 2 – Active Listening Skills – Definition of Active Listening
There are three components of active listening that you need to understand in order to master this essential communication skill. These are listener orientation, the reflective technique and questioning skills.

Chapter 3 – Reflective Technique for Active Listening
Reflection involves reflecting back to the speaker what it is you believe they mean. This technique increases your own understanding, helps the speaker to clarify his or her own thoughts, and can reassure them that you are interested in their point of view. A mixture of reflection and direct questioning can get to the bottom of what people mean.

Chapter 4 – Questioning Skills for Active Listening
Questions can help you to focus attention, elicit new ideas, encourage exploration, and foster commitment. There are seven different types of question you can use: open, probing, closed, reflective, leading, hypothetical, and paraphrasing.

Chapter 5 – Barriers to Active Listening
There are many barriers to active listening, including physical and cultural factors such as a noisy environment, a strong regional accent, or a difference in terms of reference. There are also barriers that you can create yourself if you are not careful. These include: inappropriate nonverbal cues, taking the spotlight, stereotyped reactions, inappropriate responses, pretending understanding, overreaching and under-reaching, and long-windedness.

Chapter 6 – Advantages of Active Listening
The elements of listening orientation (empathy, acceptance, congruence, and concreteness) are likely to increase as the reflective listening process continues. These are the ingredients you need for an open, trusting relationship with your team members.

Active Listening Tips – Good listeners’ detach themselves from their own concerns, attitudes, and ideas whilst they are listening. You achieve this by removing such distractions allowing you to observe both the conscious and unconscious signs of the speaker. You are then able to identify any discrepancies between these two signs and discern the true meaning of what has been said.

You will learn:
  • Why it is so important to actively listen.
  • The six aspects of listener orientation you should adopt.
  • How to use reflection and clarification in the context of active listening.
  • How to overcome the internal barriers to effective active listening.
  • How to integrate different types of questioning into active listening.
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