A - Z Coaching and Mentoring - This week's extract explores Active Listening with some top tips for improving it in practice.
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Here are some practical tips for improving active listening:
- Minimise external distractions - put phones or other devices away out of sight and turn them off ?
- Maintain eye contact ?
- Smile to show you are paying attention ?
- Adopt the posture of someone who is listening and also observe the non-verbal communication of the other person
- Show encouragement by saying ‘yes’, ‘mmm’ or nodding your head ?
- Accept pauses or short periods of silence to allow the other person to think - be comfortable with silence ?
- Mirror expressions or words to show empathy or understanding - the more automatic this is the better - deliberate mirroring can communicate inattention, so be careful ?
- Be still – listen with your physiology and avoid fiddling or fidgeting ?
- Say very little out loud, so you avoid distraction from what is being said – be sparing with verbal acknowledgement ?
- Say very little inside your head – let your thoughts come and go and repeatedly re-focus your attention on the speaker ?
- Keep an open mind – wait until the speaker has finished before you decide on your next question or whether you agree or disagree - avoid preparing what you are going to say next ?
- Assume the other person just needs to talk – avoid giving advice or describing similar situations of your own ?
- Ask relevant questions that show you have heard and understood what has just been said ?
- Summarise what you have heard and give the speaker a chance to correct your understanding ?
- Reflect back and paraphrase what the speaker has said to show you understand ?
- Reflect feelings and the broader message
Taken from the A-Z Coaching Handbook by Clare Smale where you will find a comprehensive A-Z, plus a full list of references.