The Complete Guide to Active Listening

Active listeners make more money.

They also have better relationships.

Person with cup to their ear listening in

What Is Active Listening?

Active listening emphasizes engagement and positive interactions.

An active listener listens attentively when some else speaks, it means paying attention carefully.

They paraphrase and reflect on what is said, withholding any judgement or advice.

Active listening lets you pick on non-verbal cues.

Also when you listen carefully without interrupting it makes the other person feel heard.

Being a good listener is key to making good relationships at work.

This is why we always learn about it on our manager courses!

Active Listening:

– Builds rapport and good relations

– Fosters collaboration

– Minimizes communication gaps

– Increases knowledge and understanding

– Increases your ability solve problems quickly

– Builds empathy and enhances emotional intelligence

Our small, intensive courses are the fastest way to improve your skills.manager-promo-1

8 Ways To Become A Better Active Listener

Lets look at some ways to develop your active listening.

1. Limit distractions

Active listening has taken a hit in the increasingly connected world we live in.

People try to split their attention between the speaker and their screens.

But that just means they don’t concentrate properly!

Silence distractions and give the other person your undivided attention.

Notice their posture, tone of voice, and other non-verbal cues.

2. Let the silence roll

Most passive listeners are uncomfortable with silent moments in conversations.

To become a better active listener, embrace these moments of silence.

You don’t always have to comment or reply.

Use breaks in the conversation to collect your thoughts, and also let the other person collect theirs!

3. Don’t focus on your reponse

Can you repeat the last statement that was made?

Your goal should be to be able to repeat the last statement that was made at all times.

That will keep your mind and full attention on the conversation.

4. Pay attention to non-verbal cues

The majority of communication is non-verbal.

Think about the impact that eye contact can make.

You can learn a great deal about a person’s emotional state just from their tone of voice.

Take time to notice any cues in conversation in the expression of the speaker’s eyes, their posture etc.

Remember that the words you hear convey only a fraction of the message.

Person with hand to his ear listening in

5. Show you’re listening

Use gestures and body language to show that you’re listening and engaged in the conversation.

Smile, frown, squint and use other facial expressions.

Adopt an open posture to show that you’re interested.

Nod occasionally

For more on communication, check out our communication statistics here!

6. Paraphrase and provide feedback

Try to understand the message without letting your assumptions cloud things by asking questions.

For example:

“Sounds like you are saying…”

“What I’m hearing is…”

“What do you mean when you say…”

7. Defer judgement and advice

Let the other person speak without interruptions.

Allow them to finish making their points before asking questions or interjecting.

Also, don’t interrupt with counter ideas!

8. Encourage others to suggest ideas or solutions

Most people already have a workable solution in mind before they state their problem.

They often want a little space in the conversation to work through them though.

Give them that opportunity.

In any discussion, aim to do more listening (80%) and less talking (20%).


Active listening is an incredibly valuable skill.

Whether you’re towards the start of the end of your career it will benefit you.

Give it a go in the next conversation you have.

For more on this topic, check out our assertiveness tips for managers here.



About Ben Richardson

Ben is a director of Acuity Training which he has been running for over 10 years.

He is a Natural Sciences graduate from the University of Cambridge and a qualified accountant with the ICAEW.

He previously worked as a venture capitalist and banker and so had extensive experience with Excel from building financial models before moving to learn SQL, Microsoft Power BI and other technologies more recently.