So many people have written about active listening, you probably believe you’ve mastered it. But have you?
Do you really pay attention? That means allowing time for the other person to speak while you stay present and focused.
Do you withhold judgment? Even if you have opinions about what the other person says, set them aside and focus on what you hear.
Do you reflect? That means paraphrasing the key points you hear and putting them into your own words so you understand them more fully.
Do you clarify what you heard? In many cases, this involves repeating what you believe you heard and asking the other person to expand on it.
Do you summarize? As your session draws to a close, restate key points and invite the other person to summarize.
Do you share? This means speaking about your similar experiences and ideas. When you do this appropriately, without stepping on what the speaker says, you express empathy and invite the other person to amplify his or her ideas in greater depth.
—Adapted from Active Listening, Michael Hoppe, The Center for Creative Leadership.