What is Active Listening? An Example You Can Use Now

Jordan Brown

Read Time: 2 minutes, 14 seconds

American culture is an interesting phenomenon. We love confident people who talk a lot and act in big, attention-getting ways.

We love drama and reality stars.

Does it have to be this way, though?

I don't think so.

It can be just as powerful to not say anything at all. Or, only say something when it's truly necessary.

That's how you provide real value.

Let's dig into this a bit.

What Not to Do

Do you know anyone who seems to always be waiting for the first second he or she can jump into a conversation? That person who doesn't really seem like they're listening? Rather, they're listening just enough so that they can jump in with their glorious viewpoint?

I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.

What's annoying about that is that the comments added by this type of person rarely are all that beneficial. They are based on the person's already-established views rather than what's going on in the current conversation.

If you want to learn a better way to participate in conversations, keep reading.

A Better Listening Technique

What if, instead of listening merely to jump in and talk about yourself, you listened to enhance the conversation?

It's possible, and here's how you do it.

First, you must establish your intent at the start of the interaction. This is helpful for many reasons, but at the top of that list is the fact that entering a conversation with intention primes you for a high-quality conversation. It puts you in a mindset to learn as much as you can and contribute only when you have something valuable to say.

But how do you know what's valuable to say? Easy. You take your cues from the interaction itself. You focus completely on what the other person--or people--are saying and doing. You look for body cues as much as verbal cues. And you don't have conversation lines running through your head throughout the whole interaction.

Because, when you focus completely on the content and the nature of the conversation, you start to notice things you normally wouldn't. When that happens, the right comment simply appears in your mind, and you can feel that it has value. You know it has value.


Because it's emanating from the interaction itself, not some scripted storyline. The scripted-storyline approach--that's what many, many people do. They enter conversations with their pre-planned stories rather than allowing themselves to co-create stories with their conversation partners.

Let's change that, shall we?

This week, really try to be part of the conversation with any interactions you have. This can be done over the phone, on a video call, or in person (with social-distancing guidelines in mind).

What do you think?

Do you think you could listen to not immediately respond?

How might that change the interactions you have?