What is Active Listening?

Active listening is about more than gaining understanding. Active listening is about giving. Giving assurance that you understand someone’s needs. Giving confidence that you will address those needs. Giving feedback and acknowledgement that someone’s input is valuable. If you haven’t tried active listening, you may think it is a passive, receptive activity. 

McGraw-Hill’s accurate yet insufficient definition of active listening is “Giving undivided attention to a speaker in a genuine effort to understand the speaker’s point of view.” That’s fine, but it doesn’t tell you why you give undivided attention, and it doesn’t tell you how. And active listening is much more that paying attention really well. That implies a one-directional communication. Active listening is bidirectional. This definition doesn’t tell you what you’re giving to the speaker and that’s the most important part.

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