Just what is active listening? You may think that this is something that we all do all the time, but you’d be wrong! Active listening skills will turn good leaders into great leaders.

Active listening can be an important tool in the workplace and it could be one that is good for your career. It is key to improving workplace relationships and can help you to grow both professionally and personally.

Essentially, active listening is the process by which an individual secures information from another individual or group. The ‘active’ element involves taking steps to draw out details that might not otherwise be shared.

There are some crucial differences between active and passive listeners.  Here are our top tips for active listening:

Pay attention: One goal of active listening is to set a comfortable tone and allow time and opportunity for the other person to think and speak. Pay attention to your frame of mind as well as your body language. Be focused on the moment and operate from a place of respect.

Withhold judgment: Active listening requires an open mind. As a listener and a leader, you need to be open to new ideas, new perspectives and new possibilities.

Reflect: Learn to mirror the other person’s information and emotions by paraphrasing key points. Don’t assume that you understand correctly or that the other person knows you’ve heard them.

Clarify: Don’t be shy to ask questions about any issue that is ambiguous or unclear. Open-ended, clarifying and probing questions are important tools.

Summarise: Restating key themes as the conversation proceeds, confirms and solidifies your grasp of the other person’s point of view. It also helps both parties to be clear on mutual responsibilities and follow-up.

Share: Active listening is more about understanding the other person, rather than being understood. As you gain a clearer understanding of the other person’s perspective, you can then introduce your ideas, feelings and suggestions.

Conflict between two parties can make people defensive, but if a person feels that their concerns are being listened to and taken seriously, the chances of coming to a resolution are high.