How to Improve our Ability to Listen (Active Listening)?

Almost everyone knows the importance of listening and probably many of us think we do well, but is this belief real?


Almost everyone knows the importance of listening and probably many of us think we do well, but is this belief real? Can you train and improve the act of active listening? Here we give you some keys to improve in this regard, discovering all that this improvement can bring.

What is active listening? This term was created by Carl Rogers, an American psychologist, by developing some of the most important aspects of his interpersonal theory in 1942. Since then, this term has broadened its meaning and extends into most areas in which.

Active listening is an act that we perform voluntarily, therefore requires our attention and our intention. It is an apprenticeship and, as such, it is improved, trained and acquired, like any other. Listening is active because it requires our participation, it is a fact that implies effort and concentration. Thus, we do not speak of a mere passive activity.

What does listening mean?

The scientists Roger and Farson (1979) describe listening as the quality of causing changes in the lives of others, as well as generating trust, closeness, security and empathy with the other, which is part of this fundamental tool, despite the fact that This data, science reports that people only remember between 10 and 25% of everything they hear.

Listening means focusing on the other, on the one who has decided to share his experience, his life or his problems with you. Listening requires effort, it is not easy, so we must decide when we want or can actively listen to the other.

When we put this tool into action, we need to silence the voices inside us. We need to eliminate the remorse, the guilt, the haste, the nerves, in order to dedicate ourselves 100% to the act of listening.

Active listening requires understanding, but not for that reason. The listening itself encourages the other to keep talking. Someone who is feeling heard receives an invitation to continue doing so, a stimulus to open up and share with others what is inside. Listening also requires patience, and therefore, it falls within the work we can do to improve.

What enemies are there for active listening?

There are barriers that hinder active listening. Some of the most important are:

  • Beliefs: our beliefs condition the way we perceive. Listening to someone who does not share our ideas can generate tension and / or rejection. Therefore, if we perform active listening, we just have to focus our attention on the other and not on us.
  • Expectations: what we expect from the other or from the situation leads us one way or another in listening. How many times have you disconnected from the conversation because you already knew how that would end? Did you know what I was going to say? Expectations do not allow active listening because they distract us from what is really important, understand the other.
  • Aptitudes: each one is born with different aptitudes (potentialities). Some have more facility for listening, others for communication, others for both and others are not particularly good at all. Listening requires learning and training, therefore, it is “like a sport” that we can all practice and improve.
  • Attitude: what is my attitude towards a conversation that does not interest me? In front of someone with whom I do not want to be, but I must be? Listening is an exercise of will that requires patience and attitude.

How do we learn to listen?

The most basic keys to improve listening are these:

  • Do not interrupt.
  • Pay attention with your body and your look.
  • Keep eye contact.
  • Do not judge or interpret what they tell, just listen.

He perceives both the words and the gestures and movements of the speaker. Your verbal language also communicates and needs to be heard.

Paraphrase from time to time, that is, summarize what it says to make sure you understand what it is telling you.

Feedback from time to time; that is, make affirmative gestures with the head, or for example, agree from time to time to convey that you are still listening.

The rule of the three Rs -receives, reflects and recapitulates- helps us to improve in this sense.

Remember that we are all born with the ear – with the ability – but not knowing how to listen. Listening is done and worked; In addition, it requires will. The benefit of feeling heard is what should motivate you to improve your will and yourto continue working on it.