Collaborative Coaching: Hints for Active Listening

  1. Pay Attention to the Speaker
    Give the speaker your undivided attention, and acknowledge their message. Recognize that non-verbal communication also “speaks” loudly.

    • Look at the speaker directly.
    • Try to put aside any distracting thoughts.
    • Resist mentally preparing a response.
    • Avoid being distracted.
    • Watch the speaker’s body language.
  2. Show that You’re 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 to the Speaker
    Our personal point of view, assumptions, judgements, 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.
  4. Postpone Judgement or Comments about What You Hear
    Interrupting is a waste of time. It frustrates the speaker and limits full understanding of the message.

    • Allow the speaker to finish each point before asking questions.
    • Don’t interrupt with counter arguments.
  5. Respond Appropriately to the Speaker
    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 in a way that you think he or she would want to be treated.

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