Ten Steps to Active Listening

 In Blog

One of our morning show clients interviewed Larry King. The cohost interrupted Larry before he was finished talking. Larry said, “Hold on honey, I wasn’t finished with my point. The best questions come from listening to the response of the last question.”

Larry’s right. When we are half-listening and mostly waiting to talk, we come off disrespectful, and we miss opportunities to formulate a better response, question or comeback. Active listening improves team rapport, listener interaction and guest interviews.

How does active listening improve your personal and professional life? Active listening:

  • Builds personal and professional relationships
  • Promotes learning
  • Resolves conflicts
  • Solves problems
  • Saves time and eliminates mistakes and do-overs

Active listening is key to the art of conversation. When you are actively listening, the speaker feels understood and you understand the speaker.


  1. Pay attention and be in the moment, yet relaxed.
  2. Make eye contact and face the speaker. Put away your phone and all distractions.
  3. Listen with open body language and an open mind.
  4. Listen with curiosity and genuine interest.
  5. Suspend judgment and avoid jumping to conclusions. Just roll with it.
  6. Wait for the speaker to pause before asking questions. Only ask questions to clarify and understand.
  7. Avoid interrupting the speaker.
  8. Avoid blocking or derailing the conversation. Stay with the speaker’s train of thought.
  9. Listen with empathy:
  • Listen to the words and picture what the speaker is saying.
  • Read between the lines. Notice tone of voice and body language.
  • Notice what is not being said.
  • Use the One Second Rule. Pause for one second before you start talking. Be comfortable with silence.

10. Summarize, summarize, summarize. At the end of every conversation, conclude with a summary statement to make sure you understand the speaker. They will feel understood.

A couple was driving to the wife’s office party. The husband was anxious about impressing his wife’s coworkers at her new job. The husband decided in his mind that he would just listen to people and summarize what they said. He said things like, “You must be thrilled to be going on such an adventurous vacation to Hawaii.”

On the way home, his wife said that several people came up and told her what a wonderful guy her husband is. Words like charismatic and remarkable came up.

Could it be that charisma and likability have as much to do with how we listen as what we say?

Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/jasoncartwright/

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