Just Listen

Tag: Listening

I don’t usually struggle for things to write about in my blog. Often I’m out for a walk with the dog or, perhaps, reading a book or listening to the radio and something I see, read or hear inspires me.

Today, I feel like writing something but no particular subject springs to mind. I have a lot of new projects on the go and am just about to complete one project which I’ve been working on for some time so there’s a lot going on in my head but nothing suitable for a blog post at this stage! I will write about my completed project soon and the new ones in due course.

So, if I don’t have anything in particular that I want to say what should I do? The answer is kind of obvious…..I SHOULD LISTEN!

Photo Credit: Sophie Callahan



Active listening is a great skill and can take years to master. Sometimes we think we’re listening but are we really?


We can all literally hear the same words being spoken but we interpret them via our filtering systems which have developed over many years and which are influenced by our personal beliefs, values and experiences.

This is why active listening is a skill involving having “conversations that count” (a term I’ve heard a lot in my APEC Advanced coaching course, and which I love and try my best to apply!). Conversations that count involve staying quiet and allowing the other person to speak, reflecting back to check understanding, asking open questions to dig deeper and gain more understanding, being aware of congruence i.e. are body language and spoken language in tune with each other. Listening is as much an art as a science.

So today I plan to JUST LISTEN and see what the day brings. I will mindfully listen to the wind and the birds singing whilst out for my walk, I will listen to words and music on the radio but turn it off when I’m occupied doing something else and this evening I will actively listen during a session with my mindset support group.

What are YOU listening to today?


Tag: Listening

Last time I wrote about general communication and how we can all try to be more open to improving our communication skills. This time I thought I’d delve a bit deeper into Effective Listening, which is quite probably the most important aspect of good communication.

The Art of Effective Listening

Why Listen?

We listen to obtain information, to understand, to enjoy and to learn.

Good listening skills require a high level of self-awareness.  It is important to practice ‘active listening’ i.e. to make a conscious effort to both hear the words being said and to understand the total message.  It is also very important to let the other person know that you are listening; otherwise, it can feel like talking to a brick wall.

There are five key elements to active listening:

Horses are great listeners (and they keep your secrets!). (Image: Sophie Callahan)
  1. Pay attention.  
  • Give the speaker your undivided attention
  • Look directly at the speaker
  • Put aside distracting thoughts
  • Avoid being distracted by environmental factors
  • ‘Listen’ to the speaker’s body language
  • Refrain from side conversations if you are in a group setting.
  1. Show that you are listening.
  • Nod occasionally (NB this does not necessarily imply agreement)
  • Smile and use other facial expressions
  • Note your posture and show it to be open and inviting
  • Encourage the speaker with small verbal comments e.g. ‘yes’ and ‘uh huh’.
  1. Provide feedback
  • Our personal filters, assumptions, judgements and beliefs effect what we hear.  As a listener, your role is to understand what is being said.
  • Reflect and ask questions
  • Paraphrase e.g. ‘What I’m hearing is…….’, ‘Sounds like you’re saying…..’
  • Ask questions to clarify e.g. ‘ When you say……what do you mean?’
  • Periodically summarize the speaker’s points.
  1. Defer Judgement
  • Interrupting wastes time and frustrates the speaker
  • Allow the speaker to finish
  • Don’t interrupt with counter – arguments.
  1. Respond Appropriately
  • Active listening is a model for respect and understanding
  • You are gaining information and perspective
  • You add nothing by attacking the speaker or putting them down
  • Be candid, open and honest in your response
  • Assert your opinions respectfully
  • Treat the other person as he/she would want to be treated.
  • If it is especially important to remember what has been said to you or if you are being given precise instructions then take notes

KEY POINTS

  • It takes practice and determination to be an active listener
  • Be deliberate and remember that your goal is to truly hear what is being said
  • Set aside all else while you listen
  • Ask questions/reflect/paraphrase
  • If you do not do these things then what the speaker says and what you hear can be very different.
  • Take notes if necessary.
When did you last feel that someone truly listened to you?