simone knego

How to Master the Art of Active Listening

At the heart of every conversation is a skill that is often overlooked but immensely powerful: active listening.

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that truly hearing what others are saying is an art form.

In today’s fast-paced world, where information is constantly bombarding us and attention spans are short, listening has taken a backseat.

We’re so eager to express our own thoughts and opinions that we forget the importance of really understanding someone else’s perspective.

Active listening isn’t just about hearing words.

Active listening is about being aware that there are things that aren’t being said. It’s about the tone that is being used and the emotions that are just under the surface.

It’s so much more than the words someone speaks.

Being an active listener is about making a real effort to understand the speaker’s feelings, thoughts, and intentions.

It’s about really focusing your thoughts on the other person rather than worrying about what you are going to say next.

By mastering this art, we can make deeper and more meaningful connections, and we can be genuinely empathetic.

Practicing this skill in my own life has led to so many heartfelt connections with people.

This is because active listening creates an environment of trust between you and the other person in the conversation.

Active listening can strengthen almost every relationship and support the emotional well-being of those that you love.

If active listening is something you want to improve in your own life, here are some things you can do.

Give your full attention.

In a world filled with distractions, giving someone your undivided attention is a rare gift. It’s like giving them a piece of yourself, your time, and your energy.

When you’re engaging in a conversation, make sure to put away your devices and turn off notifications so you can fully focus on the speaker and what they are saying.

To be honest, as a mother, this is something I need to work on.

But I know that when I make eye contact with one of my kids while they are speaking to me, it helps them see that I am interested in them and what they have to say.

It’s something I’m sure most of us need to work on. And if we do, it will make a difference in our relationships.

By doing these things, we are showing the other person that we value what they’re saying and that their words matter.

Practice empathy.

Empathy is a great way to help us connect to those around us on a much deeper level.

As you’re listening, try to put yourself in the speaker’s shoes so you can better understand their emotions and perspectives.

Ask yourself how you would feel in their situation.

This can really help you to better connect with them emotionally and respond to them in a more meaningful way.

Again, as a mother, this is something I practice often. I want my kids to know I understand where they are coming from and that I empathize with them.

But empathy isn’t just for our children.

We should be showing empathy to everyone. It’s not just about active listening—it’s about being a good human.

Avoid interrupting or jumping to conclusions.

One of the biggest obstacles most of us have with active listening is our urge to interrupt the speaker with our own thoughts or assumptions.

Believe me, I know it’s a problem for a lot of us.

But it’s incredibly important to let the speaker finish their thoughts before responding.

Remember that active listening is about listening—not talking.

Above all, don’t jump to conclusions.

Jumping to conclusions is dangerous and can lead to misunderstandings and misinterpretations.

Instead of instilling trust, it destroys trust and even damages relationships.

Please take my advice and just don’t do it, especially if you are working to strengthen and deepen your relationships with others.

Trust is vital for a relationship, and it begins with respecting others when they are speaking and not talking over them. 

Use verbal and nonverbal cues.

You can encourage the person who is speaking to you without even saying a word. A simple nod of your head, a smile, or any other number of facial expressions will show that you’re listening and attentive.

You can also say simple things like, “I see,” or “Go on.”

These cues show you are actively engaged in the conversation.

Your body language—maintaining an open posture and facing the speaker—also communicates that you’re paying attention.

For my children, these cues are especially important because they need to see that I am engaged, not just hear me say it.

Our kids really do know when we’re genuinely engaged and when we’re not, and a lot of it comes down to body language.

Hold your judgment.

It’s very easy to form judgments or opinions while listening to someone speak.

But active listening requires us to set aside our preconceived notions and personal opinions.

The goal of active listening is to understand the speaker, not to agree or disagree with them.

And it’s certainly not to persuade them to your way of thinking.

This is something that we need to really understand as parents.

It’s way too easy to judge what we would classify as stupid mistakes without giving our children a chance to present their case to an unbiased listener.

For active listening to work, we have to let go of our own ideas and sincerely listen to someone else share theirs.

Amazingly enough, I have learned the most when I have sincerely stopped and listened to someone else—and that includes my children.

Practice the art of patience.

One thing I have learned is that some people need more time to articulate their thoughts and emotions.

Be patient and give people the space they need to fully express themselves.

Rushing them or finishing their sentences can lead to incomplete conversations and missed opportunities for connection.

It can also lead to frustrations for the other person, as they will struggle to feel fully heard.

The extra time you spend with them will pay off in the end and help them feel valued and loved.

Reflect and clarify.

The final thing you can do as an active listener is to periodically summarize what the speaker has said to you to ensure you’ve understood correctly.

This not only confirms that you understand what they are saying but genuinely shows that you care about their point of view.

If something is unclear, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification.

Part of being an active listener is clearly understanding what the other person is actually saying.

The art of active listening is a valuable skill set.

Whether you want to deepen your personal relationships, create new friendships, or enjoy professional interactions, this skill is key to effective communication.

As we navigate a world filled with noise, I challenge you to commit to learning this valuable art form.

We can make a difference in the world around us by creating connection, seeking understanding, and practicing compassion in every conversation we engage in.

As we embrace the art of active listening, we can empower ourselves to truly hear what others are saying.

And in doing so—we embrace the beauty of human connection.

Meet Simone Knego

Simone Knego is an international speaker, award-winning author and two-time TEDx Speaker. Her work has been featured on ABC, NBC, and CBS and in Entrepreneur Magazine and Yahoo News. Her literary contributions have been honored by the National Indie Excellence Award and the NYC Big Book Award. Simone has not only summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, but she is also the heart of a bustling household with six children, three dogs, and one husband of 31 years. As the creator of the REAL Method, Simone continues to inspire and impact teams, fostering growth, and promoting self-discovery. 

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