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Active versus Passive Listening

Passive listening or remaining silent while another person speaks is how many people "listen", often without actually hearing much. While passive listening can be appropriate at times, it does not guarantee understanding, nor does it build a relationship or any empathy with the sender.

Active listening on the other hand involves interacting with the sender, seeking clarification to ensure you fully understand what is being said. Instead of just guessing at the meaning of a message you actively work to figure it out. Being an active listener will help you to "read between the lines"; to decipher the real (sometimes hidden) meaning of the message. Read the following tips to improve your active listening skills.

Tips To Improve Your Active Listening Skills

  • Adopt a neutral and relaxed posture facing the player and leaning slightly forward.
  • If appropriate look at the player when communicating with him or her. Maintaining eye contact shows that you are interested in what they have to say.
  • Let the player finish speaking without interruption, even if you think you know what is going to be said.
  • Show that you are following what the player is saying by nodding your head and making verbal affirmations such as "Yes ... I see ... Uh-huh" every now and then.
  • Repeat what was said in your own words to ensure that both of you understand what was said.
  • Ask questions if you don't understand or if you require further clarification.
  • Search for the real meaning behind what is being said rather than focusing on the details.