Improve Communication Skills- Active Listening

Rakib Hasan
4 min readJun 1, 2023



Suspending judgment and being fully present with another person to understand his or her experience or point of view.

It involves hearing more than the words of the speaker but taps into the deeper meaning, unspoken needs, and feelings conveyed. It is something that is done with the heart as well as the mind.

Active Listening (image ref: link)

Benefits of Good Listening

Whether you’re seeking a new job opportunity, striving to earn a promotion, or working to improve in your current role, improving your active listening skills will help you succeed. Much like critical thinking and conflict resolution, this soft skill will help increase your value as an employee.

Being an active listener can help you accomplish the following:

  • Get into a bond with others, build trust and goodwill
  • Gain accurate information for better decision-making and problem-solving
  • Overcome friction and work through conflict
  • Develop shared understanding and consensus, maintain others, motivate and empower them
  • Promote personal and relationship healing

Deep Listening
Suspending judgment and being fully present with another person to understand his or her experience or point of view.

Active listening skills to practice

1. Defer Judgment and be open-minded
Interrupting is a waste of time. It frustrates the speaker and limits the full understanding of the message.

  • Allow the speaker to finish each point before asking questions.
  • Don’t interrupt with counterarguments.

2. Pay Attention
Give the speaker your undivided attention, and acknowledge the message. Recognize that non-verbal communication also “speaks” loudly.

  • Look at the speaker directly.
  • Put aside distracting thoughts.
  • Don’t mentally prepare a rebuttal!
  • Avoid being distracted by environmental factors. For example, side conversations.

3. Show That You’re Listening
Use your own body language and gestures to show that you are engaged.

  • Nod occasionally.
  • Smile and use other facial expressions.
  • Make sure that your posture is open and interested.
  • Encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal comments like yes, and “uh huh.”

4. Ask open-ended questions
Ask questions that show you’ve gathered the essence of what they’ve shared, and guide them into sharing additional information. Make sure these questions cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.”

Example: “You’re right — the onboarding procedure could use some updating. What changes would you want to make to the process over the next six months?”

5. Ask specific probing questions
Ask direct questions that guide the reader to provide more details about the information they’ve shared or narrow down a broad subject or topic.

Example: “Tell me more about your current workload. Which of these projects is the most time-consuming?”

6. Respond Appropriately
Active listening is designed to encourage respect and understanding. You are gaining information and perspective. You add nothing by attacking the speaker or otherwise putting them down.

  • Be candid, open, and honest in your response.
  • Assert your opinions respectfully.
  • Treat the other person in a way that you think they would want to be treated.

7. Paraphrase
Summarize the main point(s) of the message the speaker shared to show you fully understand their meaning. This will also give the speaker an opportunity to clarify vague information or expand their message.

Example: “So what you’re saying is, your current content management system no longer meets your team’s technical needs because it doesn’t support large video files.”

8. Use short verbal affirmations
Short, positive statements will help the speaker feel more comfortable and show you’re engaged and able to process the information they’re providing. Small verbal affirmations help you continue the conversation without interrupting the speaker or disrupting their flow.

Example: “I understand.” “I see.” “Yes, that makes sense.” “I agree.”

9. Share similar experiences
Discussing comparable situations will not only show the speaker you’ve successfully interpreted their message, but it can also assist in building relationships. If the speaker has shared a problem, providing input on how you solved similar challenges is valuable to others.

Example: “I had a tough time getting started with this program, too. But it gets much easier. After just a few weeks, I felt completely comfortable using all the features.”

10. Display empathy
Make sure the speaker understands you’re able to recognize their emotions and share their feelings. By showing compassion, rather than just feeling it, you’re able to connect with the speaker and begin establishing a sense of mutual trust.

Example:“I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this problem. Let’s figure out some ways I can help.”

11. Avoid distracting movements
Avoid voluntary movements like glancing at your watch or phone, audibly sighing, doodling, or tapping a pen. You should also avoid exchanging verbal or non-verbal communication with others listening to the speaker. This can make the speaker feel frustrated and uncomfortable.

12. Maintain eye contact
Whenever possible, keep your eyes on the speaker and avoid looking at other people or objects in the room. Just be sure to keep your gaze natural, using nods and smiles to ensure you’re encouraging them rather than making the speaker feel intimidated or uneasy.


It takes a lot of concentration and determination to be an active listener. Old habits are hard to break, and if your listening skills are as bad as many people’s are, then you’ll need to do a lot of work to break these bad habits.

There are five key techniques you can use to develop your active listening skills:

  1. Pay attention.
  2. Show that you’re listening.
  3. Provide feedback.
  4. Defer judgment.
  5. Respond appropriately.

Start using active listening techniques today to become a better communicator, improve your workplace productivity, and develop better relationships.