Active Listening: Benefits and Tips to Improve

Is there a difference between hearing and listening?

Research has proven that the average person hears between 20,000 and 30,000 words a day. But how many of these words do we truly understand?

There is an important difference between hearing and listening. We should not assume that if someone hears us that automatically means they understand what we are saying.

People sitting and discussing the benefits of active listening and how to improve

What is Active Listening?

Comprehending information and focusing on fully understanding the message before responding is called active listening. Activity listening is an important business communication skill which can involve making sounds that indicate attentiveness, as well as giving feedback in the form of a paraphrased rendition of what has been said by the speaker.

4 Benefits of Active Listening

  1. Gain more in-depth information - You will get the opportunity to gain more information as a listener of the active listening acts as motivation to elaborate more on the topic in greater depth.

  2. People feel “heard” – As a listener, when you focus on fully understanding the message of the speaker it will positively influence your relationship. It also means speakers will enjoy talking to you more and it can build a trusting and ‘open’ environment.

  3. Conflict resolution – Active listening can help solve misunderstandings and prevent disputes. This is a great skill to have because misunderstandings are common between employees, clients or senior management. Discover 7 proven ways to develop your communication skills.

  4. Better outcomes – Clear communication with others is important to understand and respond in the best way. In the world of business, active listening can help you achieve excellent outcomes as well as avoid frustration.

Learn how to improve your communication within your team.

4 Top Tips to Improve Your Active Listening

1. Use non verbal communication to show you are listening

Your body language tells your listener what you really think without using verbal communication. Ensure that you face the speaker, use appropriate eye contact and think about your posture - use open body language and show that you're listening by leaning forward. 

Take a look at the graphic below to make sure you're giving off the right body language to your listener. 

non verbal communication body language types

2. Don't plan what to say next 

This might sound a little silly, but trust us, if you're having a conversation with someone but instead of intently listening, you're planning your next comment or question, the conversation won't flow naturally. Active listening all about listening to understand, not just reply. The conversation will flow much more smoothly if you try not to overthink your next words.

3. Don't interrupt

No one likes being interrupted, so don't do it to your speaker. It gives off the impression that you think your words or opinions are more important than theirs or you don't have the patience to listen to what they have to say. Even if you come up with a great idea or new thought while they're mid sentence, take the time to slow down, think about your actions and let them finish expressing themselves.

4. Stay focused on their words and non verbal communication

If you're finding it difficult to follow along with what someone is saying, try to stay focused by repeating the words they've said in your head. If you're having an important conversation, it might help to take the conversation into a private space where you won't be distracted or interrupted. Turn your phone off too - there's nothing worse than a buzzing phone during a conversation. You can get to your notifications after!

Master Verbal Communication With Our Interactive Courses

Whether you want to speak with more impact, work on your body language skills or communicate more effectively in a hybrid working environment, we've got a range of courses to suit your every need. View our upcoming courses and save your place

Or, if you can't make the dates, we can run any of our courses for you In-House. Not only do they bring your team together, but we'll work closely with you to create a tailored training agenda that fits with your requirements. Contact our In-House training team on InHouse@moderngov.com or call 0800 542 9414 to find out more.