Often when we think of developing our communications skills we think about how we speak and the message we want to deliver. However effective listening is a fundamental component of interpersonal communication that is often overlooked.
Are you aware that listening doesn’t simply happen? There are three types of listening skills that will help us grow into better communicators. These three types of listening are active listening, reflective listening and critical listening.
Active listening is a skill that encourages the listener to focus their full attention on the person who is speaking. It entails repeating what the listener believes the speaker said but paraphrasing it in their own words. Active listening involves setting aside our own personal judgement during the listening process and utilizing nonverbals such as our facial expressions gestures as well as other forms of body language to convey to the speaker that they have our undivided attention.
Reflective listening also entails giving the speaker your undivided attention using nonverbal cues and asking confirming questions or questions to clarify understanding. Reflective listening encourages the listener to reflect or mirror the speakers emotions so that the speaker feels that he or she is being listened to. The goal of reflective listening is to be supportive and understanding of the speaker’s perspective.
Critical listening is most often used when the goal of the listener is to evaluate and analyze what is being said. While active listening and reflective listening are both non-judgmental listening skills, critical listening involves the use of personal judgment. This form of listening is focused on results.
If your goal is to develop your communications skills, it is important to focus on developing effective listening skills. Being a good speaker is commendable, being an effective listener is phenomenal.
LaTrice Ross, DTM