Active Listening Skills


A: Eye contact
B: Posture
C: Gesture


Five steps to attentive listening

Squarely face the person
Open your posture
Lean towards the sender
Eye contact maintained
Relax while attending


What is it?
Restating a message, but usually with fewer words. Where possible try and get more to the point.


  1. To test your understanding of what you heard.
  2. To communicate that you are trying to understand what is being said. If youíre successful, paraphrasing indicates that you are following the speakerís verbal explorations and that youíre beginning to understand the basic message.

When listening consider asking yourself:

S: I just donít understand, one minute she tells me to do this, and the next minute to do that.
X: She really confuses you.
S: I really think he is a very nice guy. Heís so thoughtful, sensitive, and kind. He calls me a lot. Heís fun to go out with.
X: You like him very much, then.


What is it: Process of bringing vague material into sharper focus.


  • To untangle unclear or wrong listener interpretation.
  • To get more information
  • To help the speaker see other points of view
  • To identify what was said

  • e.g.
    Iím confused, let me try to sate what I think you were trying to say.

    Youíve said so much, let me see if Iíve got it all.

    Perception Checking

    What is it: Request for verification of your perceptions.


    1. To give and receive feedback
    2. To check out your assumptions

    Let me see if Iíve got it straight. You said that you love your children and that they are very important to you. At the same time you canít stand being with them. Is that what you are saying?


    What is it: pulling together, organizing, and integrating the major aspects of your dialogue. Pay attention to various themes and emotional overtones. Pout key ideas and feelings into broad statements. DO NOT add new ideas.


    A number of good points have been made about rules for the classroom. Letís take a few minutes to go over them and write them on the board.
    Weíre going all over the map this morning. If I understand you correctly,

    The three major points of the story areÖ

    Primary Empathy

    What is it: Reflection of content and feelings


    1. To show that youíre understanding the speakerís experience
    2. To allow the speaker to evaluate his/her feelings after hearing them expressed by someone else
    Basic Formula:

    You feel (state feeling) because (state content)

    Student: I just donít know how I am going to get all this math homework done before tonightís game especially since I donít get most of this stuff you taught us today.

    Teacher: You are feeling frustrated and stuckÖYou are feeling frustrated and stuck with math you donít know how to do and youíre worried that you wonít figure it out before you go to the game.

    The main fear for you seems to be fear -- youíre really scared of losing your relationship if things donít get better.

    Itís upsetting when someone doesnít let you tell your side of the story.

    Advanced Empathy

    What is it: reflection of content and feeling at a deeper level.

    Purpose: To try and get an understanding of what may be deeper feelings

    I get the sense that you are really angry about what was said, but I am wondering if you also feel a little hurt by it.

    You said that you feel more confident about contacting employers, but I wonder if you also still feel a bit scared.