Active listening is a complex communicative skill, semantic speech perception. It involves the direct interaction of all participants in the process of communication (the listener and the speaker) and indirect interaction when speech is heard on television, radio, from a computer, etc. Active listening can help to understand, assess and remember the information transmitted by the interlocutor. Also, the methods of active listening may induce the individual to answer, direct the conversation in the right direction, preventing the wrong, erroneous understanding or misinterpretation of messages received from the interlocutor.
The term active listening is a Hippenreiter introduced into our culture. In her opinion, active listening should be meaningful for everyone, as it opens up new opportunities for establishing deep contact between parents and their children, adult spouses with each other, work colleagues, etc. Such listening can relieve emerging conflicts and tensions, create an atmosphere of good and warmth, the spirit of mutual acceptance. The book “The Miracles of Active Hearing” by Hippenreiter contains step-by-step instructions on how to master the skill of active listening, answers to frequently asked questions, and a host of life examples that show the effectiveness of the ability to actively listen.
The goal of any hearing is to obtain as much information as possible in order to make the right decision. The quality of any conversation depends not only on the ability to speak, but also on the ability to perceive information. When a subject is interested in a conversation, he tries to listen carefully and involuntarily turn to face the subject who is currently speaking, or leans towards him, i.e. eye contact is established.
The ability to listen as if with “whole body” helps to better understand the interlocutor’s identity and shows the interlocutor interest in him. It is necessary to listen to the interlocutor always attentively, especially if there is a danger of any misunderstanding. The formation of misunderstandings is possible when the conversation itself or its subject matter is too complicated to understand or completely unfamiliar. It also happens when a speaker has some speech defects or an accent. In such cases, and in many others, it is necessary to develop active listening skills.
Unconditional acceptance is important in any interaction, especially for establishing contact with children or spouses. Communication should be based on the principle of unconditional acceptance.
Unconditional acceptance is mainly a demonstration to another individual that a person exists and has its own significance. Achieving unconditional adoption by one individual of another is possible using a variety of factors, for example, asking questions that demonstrate to an individual that his opinion is important to you, that you would like to know and understand him better. But the most important thing in the question is the answer to it. It is in such cases that active listening techniques are needed. The following techniques exist: echoing, rephrasing, and interpretation.
The “echo” technique is a verbatim repetition of the last words of the interlocutor, but with interrogative intonation. Paraphrasing consists in a brief transfer of the essence of the information transmitted by the partner. It usually begins with the words: "if I understood you correctly, then ...". Interpretation is an assumption about the real, correct meaning of what was said, about its goals and causes. Here a phrase like this is used: "I guess you ...".
The technique of active listening consists in: the ability to listen and empathize with the interlocutor; in clarifying information for oneself, by paraphrasing the statements of the interlocutor; in the ability to ask questions on the topic of conversation.
Thanks to the method of active listening a person will increase self-esteem, improve interaction with others. Active listening helps identify problems and possible solutions.
The ability to actively listen is a specific sequence of actions. So, the first thing that should be done with active listening is to look at the interlocutor, since eye contact is a significant element of communication. Interest in the information transmitted by the interlocutor, is expressed in the interlocutor's eyes.
And if you examine the interlocutor completely (“from head to toe”), this indicates that the interlocutor himself is more important to you, and not the information transmitted to them. If during the conversation to consider the surrounding objects, it will indicate that the person is not important, neither the interlocutor, nor the information transmitted to them, specifically at the moment.
The main element of active listening is the ability to show the other person that they are listening attentively and with interest. This is achieved by accompanying the partner’s speech with a nod of the head, pronouncing such words as: “yes”, “I understand you”, etc. However, excessive manifestation can cause a backlash.
Also, you should not try to complete the sentence instead of the interlocutor, even if you fully understand what the subject of communication wants to say. It is necessary to give the opportunity to the individual to understand and finish the thought.
In situations where something in the conversation is not clear, you should ask questions. It is necessary to contact the interlocutor for clarification or clarification. The desire to obtain clarifying or additional information is one of the most important indicators of active listening. In cases when it is clear what the interlocutor is talking about, but he cannot independently express his thought, one can help him with a question. But since each question implies only a few answers, you should learn to ask the right questions.
Another important element of active perception is the rephrasing of the statements of the communication partner. Paraphrasing involves an attempt to clarify the meaning of a statement by repeating to the partner his own information, but in other words. In addition to correct understanding, paraphrasing also provides an additional opportunity for the interlocutor to notice that they are listening attentively and trying to understand.
Important in the active perception is the observation of the feelings of the partner. To do this, you can use a phrase of this type - “I understand how difficult it is for you to talk about it”, etc. This shows the partner that they empathize with him. Emphasis should be placed on the reflection of feelings that are expressed by the interlocutor, his emotional state and attitudes.
The main characteristic feature of active perception, which increases its effectiveness, is determined by the fact that in the process of verbal communication all possible misinterpretations and doubts are eliminated. That is, when a communication partner comes forward from an active listening position, he can always be sure that he understands the interlocutor correctly. It is the reverse verbal communication, which confirms the correctness of the partner’s understanding and attitude towards him without prejudice, and makes active perception (listening) such an effective means of communication. Techniques of active perception are described in greater detail in the book “The Miracles of Active Listening” by Julia Gippenreiter.
Active listening techniques
Active listening, sometimes also called reflective, sensitive, thoughtful, is the most effective way of perceiving any information today. That is why it is so important to use active listening techniques in everyday life.
Among the techniques of active listening, the following are distinguished: pause, clarification, retelling, thought development, communication about perception, communication about self-perception, remarks about the conversation.
The pause allows the verbal communication partner to think. After such a pause, the interlocutor can add something else, say something that he would have kept silent about before. It also allows the listener to withdraw from himself, his assessments, feelings, thoughts, and focus on the interlocutor. The ability to switch to the internal process of a communication partner, moving away from oneself is one of the most difficult and most important conditions for active perception, which creates a trusting mood between the partners in conversation.
The clarification is understood as a request to clarify or clarify any of the delivered speech. In any ordinary communication, small inaccuracies and understatements are thought of by communicators for each other. However, when in the course of a conversation emotionally significant questions are touched upon, complex topics are discussed, the interlocutors often involuntarily avoid raising painful questions. Clarification is able to preserve the understanding of the thoughts and feelings of the interlocutor in the situation that has arisen.
Retelling is an attempt by the attentive interlocutor to briefly repeat what the partner said in your own words. At the same time, the one who listens should try to highlight and emphasize the most important thoughts and accents. Retelling is the possibility of feedback, understanding how words sound from the outside. The result of the retelling can be either the receipt by the interlocutor of confirmation that he is understood, or the possibility of adjusting the statements appears. Also, a paraphrase can serve as a way to summarize subtotals.
With the help of the reception of the development of thought is an attempt to pick up and move further the course of the main idea or thought of the interlocutor.
The listener can tell the interlocutor his impression of him, which was formed in the process of communication. This technique is called the message of perception.
And the message by the listener to the interlocutor about the changes in his personal state during the hearing is called receiving a message about self-perception. For example, "I hate to hear it."
An attempt by the listener to inform about how, in his opinion, it is possible to understand the conversation entirely and completely is called receiving comments about the course of the conversation. For example, "we seem to have reached a common understanding of the issue."