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About Active Listening
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Listening is not natural. It is not one of the body s senses.

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Listening requires a lot of effort on the part of the listener in order for him to understand. In these pages, you will discover different listening styles, why you listen the you you do, how to overcome barriers to listening and how to become an effective listener. Read more Read less. Amazon Outlet Store.

Shop thousands of discounted overstock products from Amazon Outlet Store Shop now. The greatest hindrance to listening presence is our unawareness and inability to engage in witnessing, that is, seeing through the non-existent self or ego-mind with all its chattering thoughts, cherished beliefs, opinions, roles and identities.

The fine art of listening: Can you hear me now? Improve your communication skills

The self-awareness and self-study of witnessing begins when "The I observes the Me," as psychologist William James put it. Once you see the mind or fictive ego through witnessing, standing outside of it looking at what it is up to now, what hold can it continue to have on you?

Listening presence certainly encompasses listening to our own cognitions and feelings that come up within our self, along with any added-on mental chatter and emotional reactivity. Sensing the same with another is equally important. Can we bring sensitivity and attention to all that arises, be transparent to our self and others over what is coming up for us in the moment, and rigorously set aside feeding any reactive fires within us or behaviorally acting out?

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As with all adaptive life transformation, what we let go, release and fully surrender is usually what inspires and propels our greatest growth. When listening is authentic and effective, a reciprocal process of attunement is operating. In attunement to another, we bring a feeling with or empathizing with another's feelings as well as kinesthetic and emotional sensing of another.

We engage in a reciprocal interaction of emotional expression or affect as well as an exchange of felt resonance. The listener sets aside or decenters from their own experience long enough to enter into the other's experience and world.

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Central within attunement is a clear respect for boundaries with each party. Repeated interactions of attunement help establish an environment of safety, security and stability, especially as the listener signals that the perceived needs and feeling expression are not only acceptable, but are met with expressions of valuing and importance. In moments of attunement to the other there is a unity or oneness of contact. Disinterest, boredom and being on automatic pilot is likely to be just as disconcerting and off-putting to the communicator as showing an urgency for them to finish or bringing an unspoken agenda to persuade or manipulate them without their prior agreement.

Misattunements, that is, when we uncomfortably miss each other on some level in our communication, can occur fairly regularly, even in close relationships. Thus it is highly useful to learn how to identify misattunements, quickly acknowledge these and take corrective actions to again be accurately empathetic with respectful limits. Several writers have used the term "beginner's ear", alluding to the Zen master Suzuki Roshi's use of "beginner's mind" standing for a fresh, open and uncluttered mind. Beginner's ear points to a fundamental openness without prejudgment to what is actually here-and-now and letting everything simply be exactly as it is.

Greeting another with both a beginner's mind and a beginner's ear is to show core respect and caring to the speaker. Science fiction author Robert Heinlein in his book Stranger in a Strange Land actually coined a new verb for beginner's consciousness: to grok.

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Heinlein portrayed grokking as a fundamental way of knowing that is holistic, intuitive, direct and immediate. It is the type of rapport you timelessly offer by entering oneness with another's inner experience. A Zen saying, "hearing with one's eyes and seeing with one's ears," points to a unity and wholeness of perception and being that is at the heart of beginner's consciousness.

Psychologist Lawrence LeShan mentions an older sense of the word "understand" that is highly relevant within a discussion on listening well. In contract to the standard meaning of understanding, that is, breaking something down into component parts and describing how they work together, is the meaning to "stand under," that is to comprehend and perceive something by being apart or participating in it as an organic, complete process.

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Equally well, it fits listening presence. Even as you sign up to listen and enter into another's world, both in what is being communicated and what is not being communicated which may well be of even greater value for your awareness , communication is transmitted through different vehicles, both verbal and non-verbal. In listening presence, the listener's conscious intention requires giving oneself whole-heartedly to listen with undivided attention. Where you are "coming from" is key to quality listening.

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Looking another in the eyes, listening to another's tone of voice and being aware of another's body language are pivotal skills in listening well. These findings also strongly suggest that if you do not look at the speaker's face, you are likely to miss up to 93 percent of the speaker's communication! The impact of our immediate environment and context typically are underestimated, while the person and their disposition are overestimated, in making attributions of cause and responsibility for actions.

The mistake of overestimating the importance of character traits and underestimating the importance of the context or situation is called the fundamental attribution error and has considerable support in psychological research. If you would like to hear more, please scroll down to the next HEAR button. By the Mind Tools Content Team. For instance: We listen to obtain information.

We listen to understand. We listen for enjoyment.

We listen to learn. Tip: Good communication skills require a high level of self-awareness. Tip: If you're finding it particularly difficult to concentrate on what someone is saying, try repeating his or her words mentally as he says them — this will reinforce his message and help you to stay focused. Finding This Article Useful?

Read our Privacy Policy. Tip: Be aware that active listening can give others the impression that you agree with them even if you don't. Tip: If you find yourself responding emotionally to what someone said, say so. Key Points It takes a lot of concentration and determination to be an active listener. There are five key techniques you can use to develop your active listening skills: Pay attention.

Show that you're listening. Provide feedback. Defer judgment. Respond appropriately. Add this article to My Learning Plan. Mark article as Complete. Show Ratings Hide Ratings. Rate this resource. Free Workbook Offer! Find Out More. Comments Over a month ago Michele wrote. Hi atingarg, Thank you for the feedback on the article!

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Michele Mind Tools Team. Over a month ago atingarg wrote.