Active Listening: Practicing Positive Communication

Active Listening: Practicing Positive Communication Active Listening: Practicing Positive Communication

Listening is so important. It is the easiest way to connect with other people and build relationships. We all know about passive listening. The person is hearing us speak but is tuned out or not mentally engaged. This could be discouraging and unsatisfying. Active listening is the opposite. It means listening completely. This type of listening is a skill that involves intentional engagement and can be improved over time with practice and effort.

The two prerequisites to active listening are commitment and practice.

Put aside distractions and make listening a priority. Good listening is a choice that is made every time somebody speaks. Like any skill, practice is a must. The more you practice active listening the easier and more natural it becomes. Here are some skills that are a great place to start for those looking to practice.


Nonverbal communication demonstrates you are paying attention and can give encouragement. This could be demonstrated with eye contact, open body posture oriented towards the other person and by putting electronic devices away.


Asking a simple question can go a long way in conveying that you are listening. Letting the person speak after a clarifying question is so important.


An articulation of the discussion's main points. Often used in therapy, summarizing shows you are listening and gives structure to long discussions.


Reflections can be a short literal paraphrase of expressed emotions. Reflections of feelings can be greatly encouraging and can signify that it is safe to open up. This skill is also tremendously useful for parents. Accurate reflections can provide kids with words to describe their emotions.

Don't be scared to get it wrong. An inaccurate feeling reflection or poor summarization will most likely be corrected. Try again!

Great active listening is an extremely valuable tool for all relationships. For example, in parenting active listening relays respect. When children feel heard and respected, they will be more inclined to speak when they need to express themselves. This could reduce behavioral outbursts and can help children build emotional awareness. By practicing and becoming proficient in active listening we can improve our communication and create healthier, supportive relationships.

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