Active Listening

Active Listening is a focused listening to understand the "total message" that the other person is trying to share. We typically remember little of what we hear.

Active Listening will help you remember and better understand.

It is a technique for gaining understanding.
  • Will let students know feel cared about,
  • feel understood, improve their ease of learning,
  • for improving by deepening our relationship with our students.
  • Help improve students understanding.
  • Focuses on the feedback loop in the model for communication.


  • To clairfy meaning
  • Student gains greater insight into their feelings
  • Helps the listener better concentrate on what is being said


  • Sometimes a person just needs to be heard and acknowledged before the person is willing to consider an alternative or soften his /her position.
  • It is often easier for a person to listen to and consider the other’s position when that person knows the other is listening and considering his/her position.
  • It helps people to spot the flaws in their reasoning when they hear it played back without criticism.
  • It also helps identify areas of agreement so the areas of disagreement are put in perspective and are diminished rather than magnified.
  • Reflecting back what we hear each other say helps give each a chance to become aware of the different levels that are going on below the surface. This helps to bring things into the open where they can be more readily resolved.
  • If we accurately understand the other person’s view, we can be more effective in helping the person see the flaws in his/her position.
  • If we listen so we can accurately understand the other’s view, we can also be more effective in discovering the flaws in our own position.

How Active Listening Works

Student - I don't like this school as much of my old school. People are not as nice as my old school. Para - Are you unhappy at this school?

Yeah, I have not made any good friends, no one includes me. Para - you are unhappy here.

  1. Look at the person, and suspend other things you are doing.
  2. Listen not merely to the words, but the feeling content.
  3. Be sincerely interested in what the other person is talking about.
  4. Restate what the person said.
  5. Ask clarification questions once in a while.
  6. Be aware of your own feelings and strong opinions.
  7. If you have to state your views, say them only after you have listened.

Verbal Signals
  • 'I'm listening' cues
  • Disclosures
  • Validating Statements are very important

Non-Verbal Signals
  • Good eye contact
  • Facial expressions
  • Body language
  • Silence
  • Touching2

There are five key elements of active listening. They all help you ensure that you hear the other person, and that the other person knows you are hearing what they are saying.
  1. Pay attention.
    Give the speaker your undivided attention and acknowledge the message. Recognize that what is not said also speaks loudly.
    • Look at the speaker directly.
    • Put aside distracting thoughts. Don’t mentally prepare a rebuttal!
    • Avoid being distracted by environmental factors.
    • “Listen” to the speaker’s body language.
    • Refrain from side conversations when listening in a group setting.
  2. Show that you are listening.
    Use your own body language and gestures to convey your attention.
    • Nod occasionally.
    • Smile and use other facial expressions.
    • Note your posture and make sure it is open and inviting.
    • Encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal comments like yes, and uh huh.
  3. Provide feedback.
    Our personal filters, assumptions, judgments, and beliefs can distort what we hear. As a listener, your role is to understand what is being said. This may require you to reflect what is being said and ask questions.
    • Reflect what has been said by paraphrasing. “What I’m hearing is…” and “Sounds like you are saying…” are great ways to reflect back.
    • Ask questions to clarify certain points. “What do you mean when you say…” “Is this what you mean?”
    • Summarize the speaker’s comments periodically.
If you find yourself responding emotionally to what someone said, say so, and ask for more information: "I may not be understanding you correctly, and I find myself taking what you said personally. What I thought you just said is XXX; is that what you meant?"

  1. Defer judgment.
    Interrupting is a waste of time. It frustrates the speaker and limits full understanding of the message.
    • Allow the speaker to finish.
    • Don’t interrupt with counter-arguments.
  2. Respond Appropriately.
    Active listening is a model for respect and understanding. You are gaining information and perspective. You add nothing by attacking the speaker or otherwise putting him or her down.
    • Be candid, open, and honest in your response.
    • Assert your opinions respectfully.
    • Treat the other person as he or she would want to be treated.

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