Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Today's Question: What is Really Meant by Active Listening?

I learned about "active" listening in one of my college communications courses. Active listening means that the listener is completely focused on the person delivering the message; at the end of an active listening exercise there should be a mutual understanding of the subject matter.

The word "active" implies an action--so why isn't listening action enough, why do we feel compelled to do something other than just listen--such as take notes or have a pre-existing list of questions that we are going to ask regardless of the information presented?

Oftentimes we feel obligated to take notes during an important meeting or presentation. In order to prepare for the meeting, we have developed questions to ask to appear engaged. We'll concentrate harder on these activities than actually taking a moment to listen when we need to. In these situations, our active listening gets confused with taking good notes or asking good questions.

I encourage you the next time you have an important meeting with someone to stop taking notes, start listening and keep asking (relevant) questions!

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