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Active Listening is a Crucial Leadership Skill

Active Listening is as important on the home and social front as it is at work. It is the best way to show interest in others, to learn about them and to pick up the all-important pieces of free information which allow you to build up the relationship.

There are three triggers that let you know when you should listen actively:
• when an important or emotionally-charged message is coming from the other person
• when someone is struggling to make themselves understood
• when you are not certain you understand what the other person means.

"Active" listening consists of turning on and tuning in: a for attention; c for concentration; t for total; i for interested; v for valuing; e for empathic. See how they are not present in the first exchange below. Then see that how they are fully present in the second exchange.

What Not Listening Sounds Like

JIM: Boy, Dad, I've had it up to here with school.
DAD: Why's that?
JIM: Oh, it just seems a waste of time.
DAD: Well, we all feel like that sometimes. I did. Just give it time.
JIM: I don't see why I can't be like Joe. He's got a job at the garage and is making big money.
DAD: Well, you're not like Joe. Joe's missed out on the rest of his education. You don't want to end up like Joe.
JIM: There's nothing wrong with Joe.
DAD: I didn't say there was. It's just that you're not going to throw away a good education...after everything we've sacrificed for you.
JIM: Well, I never asked you to...
DAD: Look, maybe if you spent a bit more time doing school work instead of watching TV...
JIM: Look, Dad...It's no good...Oh...forget it. I don't want to talk about it anyway.

What Active Listening Sounds Like

Now here's the same exchange with Dad actively listening to Jim.

JIM: Boy, Dad, I've had it up to here with school!
DAD: You've had enough of school?
JIM: I sure have. It's just a waste of time.
DAD: So you feel you're getting nowhere?
JIM: Well, yes. I mean, look at Joe. He's left school and earning big money at the garage. That's more like work.
DAD: You think paid work is more important than schooling?
JIM: Well, not exactly. It's just that sometimes I think I'd be better off not at school.
DAD: Sometimes? Like when?
JIM: Well, today, I suppose. I got a pretty stupid mark in Maths this morning.
DAD: I see. Do you think you should leave school for one bad mark?
JIM: No, I suppose not. Maybe I'll stick in a bit longer. Hey, Dad, thanks for listening.

7 Things To Do If You Want to be an Active Listener

You can apply the features of active listening to any situation if you do the following:

i. suspend whatever else you are doing
ii. listen not just to words but feelings
iii. be genuinely interested in the other person
iv. repeat back what they say
v. ask for clarification once in a while
vi. put your own feelings on hold
vii. state your views only when they have finished.