Soft Skills

Add These Active Listening Skills to Your Communication Toolbox

Use these active listening skills to cut through to a conflict’s core issues.

Conflict is inevitable. Conflict resolution is the act of finding a peaceful solution to a dispute, and strong communication is one of the most valuable assets one can bring to the process. There are many components of having good communication skills, and active listening is one of these fundamental skills. Active listening is defined as listening with uninterrupted engagement, and it allows the speaker to feel truly heard by the other person. When people feel they are being heard, they feel safe, and when they feel safe, they open up and divulge, creating an open channel of communication. Open communication can help get to the core of the conflict. 

Active Listening skills.

  • Just listen. Don’t plan out how you will respond while the other person is speaking because you won’t actually hear what the other person is saying.

  • Use verbal (e.g. “uh-huh”) or nonverbal (e.g. head nodding) cues to show you are listening. When we communicate, we consciously and unconsciously pick up on verbal and nonverbal cues from others.  These cues will make the speaker feel heard and understood.

  • Look directly at the person speaking, and avoid looking at your phone, watch, or anything else. 

  • Ask questions about the person’s experience with open-ended questions (e.g. “Why do you think you’ve been feeling this way?”)

  • Show you’ve been truly listening by summarizing the facts you heard.   

  • Validate the speaker’s emotions by reflecting on their feelings, as you understand them. (e.g. “It seems like that made you feel sad,” “What do you need right now?”)

  • Don’t be afraid of silence. 

  • Bring curiosity instead of judgment to the conversation. 

Use these active listening skills to create an environment where the other person feels comfortable enough to be vulnerable about the conflict’s core issues. 

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