What does “active listening” mean?

Active listening means an open, respectful and empathetic attitude towards the conversation partner, as well as the content of the conversation.

Active listening – as an essential tool of communication – makes it its task to better understand the interlocutor and is thus considered the most important discipline of conducting a conversation. Above all, it is about listening attentively to one’s counterpart, agreeing with him and, if necessary, asking questions.

The key elements of active listening

The founder of talk therapy in medical psychology, Carl Ransom Rogers, sees three elements as the basis for “Active Listening”:

  1. An empathetic and open attitude
  2. The appearance of the interlocutor should be authentic and similar
  3. Offering acceptance and positive regard

Advantages of Active Listening

  • The interlocutors can better respond to each other
  • Active listening forms the sensible argumentation basis for the further course of the conversation
  • Misunderstandings become less frequent
  • Building a level of trust

The goals of Active Listening

  • Creating a good atmosphere
  • Understand the mindset of his counterpart
  • Engage with the person you are talking to
  • Correspond emotionally
  • Animate your counterpart to an action
  • Understand the opinion and motives of the interlocutor and respect them
  • Repeat important points, as well as thoughts of the interlocutor

Means with which to signal active listening

A distinction is made between verbal and nonverbal means that can be used to signal to your interlocutor that you are actively listening.

Verbal means

  • “Yes”, “I understand” and so on signal agreement
  • “Could you please explain that to me again in a little more detail?! – signals a follow-up question.
  • Restraint of one’s own opinion
  • Do not interrupt the person you are talking to, let them finish.

Nonverbal means

  • Keep eye contact
  • Make notes if necessary
  • A nod
  • Keep your eyes open