Topic 3: The Most Important Social Skill – Active Listening

One of the most important skills for developing social awareness is active listening. Being silent is different from listening! Active listening shows to the speaker that you have received the message. It also shows that you have understood the intensity of feelings behind the message. It encourages the speaker to share his/her feelings. Active listening develops the sense of mutual understanding and attention. That is why it is very important in communication and in conflict management is essential.

  • Pay attention not only to the words, but also to who is saying them. What is their education, age, experience, probable perceptions, beliefs, stereotypes, emotional state, etc.?;
  • Pay attention to their non-verbal communication (see p. 24-25) and to figure out how they are feeling and why.
  • Try to figure out not only what they are saying, but why they are saying it. What is their purpose?
  • Try to figure out if there are some emotional, psychological, perceptional or other barriers that may obstruct the correct decoding of the message.
  • Ask questions. Open questions if you need to gather more information. Closed questions (yes/no) to get confirmation.
  • Use paraphrasing: rephrase the message in your own words and ask if you have understood correctly. “Do you mean…?”; “I am not sure that I understand you, but I think you are saying…”
  • Nod and make eye contact to signal that you are listening.

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