Active Listening

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Active Listening

16.07.2008 ob 12:14

As you yourself know, there is a great difference between listening and hearing! And we can only believe spoken words if the speakers themselves believe in them. It is only when we are convinced about what we are talking about that we are convincing to our surroundings, and only then will others believe us. And this occurs when our bodies, minds and our emotions are working in unison, even though we never learn how to "perform" in public.

Listening is a sign of regard and respect towards others as well as our advantage. Active listening includes all the senses of perception, as it is only in this way that we can perceive changes in other people.

The difference between active and passive listening

Active listening
  • Body language - upright, attentive posture; avoiding repetitive motions that distract the conversation partner; maintaining eye contact; motions and facial mimicry that encourage the conversation partner to speak; adequate distance between the conversation partners.
  • Attention – is placed on the conversation partner.
  • Acceptance – we accept the conversation partner’s ideas and emotions.
  • Empathy - we empathise with the content of the conversation partner’s story.
  • Questions – we ask open-ended questions, encourage the conversation partner to say more.
  • Explanation - we ask for explanations, verify our understanding.
  • Summing up - we occasionally sum up what has been said, we repeat after the conversation partner.

Passive listening
  • Body language – the appearance of boredom; doodling and drawing on a piece of paper; averting our gaze; our mimicry and motions are not a reflection of what has been said.
  • Attention – attention and comments are geared towards ourselves.
  • Acceptance – we do not accept the conversation partner’s ideas and emotions.
  • Empathy – contempt for emotions.
  • Questions - we ask closed-ended questions, we are satisfied with what the conversation partner says by him/herself.
  • Explanation – we form our own opinion, we do not verify whether we have understood correctly.
  • Summing up - we do not sum up.

Active listening therefore implies that we completely accept the message that the conversation partner is conveying. It therefore involves listening to words and thoughts that are hidden behind the words. Alongside this, we also follow the emotions and other forms of non-verbal communication and, most of all, the agreement between the non-verbal and verbal communication. Using this combination, we try to establish the intentions of our conversation partner. This is why a true businessman should never express anger, disappointment, surprise or even cynicism, sarcasm or similar negative emotions. Successful people are well aware that they often have to conceal the various expressions and signs of a hasty reaction that would enable their rival, adversary or competitor to discover whether they are satisfied with the course of the conversation or negotiations or not.

Summarised from Poslovno komuniciranje: evropske razsežnosti, Maribor 2004