We have all heard of the term ‘Active Listening’ – but what really is active listening and how do we teach ourselves this very valuable communication technique?

To start with there is a huge difference between hearing and listening. Hearing alone is not enough – you need to understand what is being said and why.

So listen up – here are some top tips to master this technique.

Maintain eye contact through the conversation and use non verbal cues (such as tilting your head or nodding).  Show open body language (lean in slightly and express yourself with your hands open and palms up).

Don’t interrupt – but when there is a pause think about what next to say or try to paraphrase. This means repeating what the other person has said (but in your own words) this confirms to them that you are both listening and understanding what they are saying.

Don’t be afraid to clarify – ask a probing question to clear up anything you may misinterpret. Try asking specific questions such as “Tell me more about ….”

Practice your skills with every conversation you have and before you know it you will be actively participating in conversations and in turn this will help you build a better connection by showing that you do listen and you do care!

And the best tip of all – When in doubt Talk Less & Listen More!