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5 Techniques for Active Listening

5 Techniques for Active Listening
Photo by saeed karimi / Unsplash

Active listening is a communication skill that involves fully focusing on, understanding, and responding to a speaker in a way that demonstrates genuine interest and empathy. It goes beyond simply hearing the words being spoken and requires attentiveness, engagement, and comprehension. Here are five techniques for practicing active listening:

Maintain Eye Contact:

  • Keeping eye contact with the speaker conveys your undivided attention and encourages them to express their thoughts openly.

Use Nonverbal Cues:

  • Displaying nonverbal cues, such as nodding or leaning forward, signals your engagement and understanding of what the speaker is saying.

Provide Verbal Feedback:

  • Offer verbal affirmations, like "I see" or "I understand," to reassure the speaker that you are following their message and acknowledging their perspective.

Paraphrase and Summarize:

  • Restate the speaker's main points in your own words to ensure you have accurately understood their message, and to give them an opportunity to clarify any misunderstandings.

Ask Open-Ended Questions:

  • Pose open-ended questions to encourage deeper exploration of the topic and demonstrate your interest in the speaker's thoughts and feelings. This also helps to clarify any ambiguities or to gain more information about the subject matter.
Action Item: Google "powerful questions" and practice asking them to others.


  1. Adler, Ronald B., and Russell F. Proctor II. "Looking Out, Looking In." 15th ed., Cengage Learning, 2017.
  2. Brownell, Judi. "Listening: Attitudes, Principles, and Skills." 5th ed., Routledge, 2016.
  3. Rogers, Carl R., and Richard E. Farson. "Active Listening." In "Communication in Business Today," edited by R.G. Newman, M.A. Danzinger, and M. Cohen, 142-153, Heath, 1987.
  4. Nichols, Michael P. "The Lost Art of Listening: How Learning to Listen Can Improve Relationships." 2nd ed., The Guilford Press, 2009.
  5. Worthington, Debra L., and Margaret F. H.ackbarth. "The Components of Listening: A New Model." In "Listening and Human Communication in the 21st Century," edited by Andrew D. Wolvin, 7-26, Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.