Productive Listening

by Unre Visagie

Active and Passive listening skills
Chapter 5
p.10
People often say that I’m not a good listener. The other day a team member said that I don’t hear what he is saying and that I should brush up on my “Active listening skills”. I don’t know what he meant.
Can you give me some guidelines?
Effective listening skills are of crucial importance in business, especially if you want to hear beyond what a customer is saying. It is important to understand the difference between “Passive Listening” and “Active Listening”, for both encompass a set of skills you need in order to be effective in your communication with colleagues and customers.
Passive listening techniques focus on keeping the communication flowing. It encourages the speaker to “open up”.
Passive listening:
Pay attention to the speaker.
Avoid judgmental or defensive responses.
Exert mild pressure on the speaker to keep on talking, explaining and elaborating.
Create the space the speaker needs to verbalize his real needs, opinion or doubts.
Acknowledgement:
Can simply be done by nodding the head and leaning forward, or through the use of expressions like:
“I see”
“Yes…”
“Hmm…”
“Really”, etc.
Avoid evaluative acknowledgments like:
“That’s good!”
“Excellent!”
“Your right.”,etc.
Door openers:
Door openers are responses from the listener that encourage the speaker to open up to talk about their needs, expectations, concerns, doubts and fears:
“Tell me more about that..”
“Help me to understand what you are saying regarding…”
“I’m interested to hear what you think of…”
“I’d like to hear what you feel about…”
“I’d like to hear what you are saying about…”
Listening is not about keeping quiet, it’s about getting involved in what the speaker is saying and facilitating additional communication.
And what about Active Listening?
Active Listening is about ensuring that the receiver in the communication decodes the message transmitted by the sender correctly. Active listening closes the loop in communication, providing feedback to the sender.
The active listener verbally shares impressions or understanding with the sender by paraphrasing back perceptions of the message.
The following phrases may be used when you want to check your understanding and you wish to create the opportunity for the sender to correct you if you have missed the point, or to elaborate further on the sender’s needs, expectations, doubts, etc.
When you are certain you understand what has been said:
“What I hear you saying is…”
“From your point of view…”
“I’m picking up that you…”
“As you see it…”
“What I really hear you saying, is that…”
“It seems to you…”
“You feel…”
When you are less certain that you understand, the following creates the opportunity for the sender to correct you:
“I think I hear you saying…”
“I wonder if I am correct when I say that…”
“It appears you..”
“I’m not sure I’m wrong with you but…”
“Correct me if I am wrong but…”
“Is it possible that…”
“Let me see if I understand you…”
I trust you understand what was meant by “Listening beyond what the customer is saying”.
Acting upon this information is the true key to agility in business.

Active and Passive listening skills

Chapter 5 p.10

w&t_question

I Ask

People often say that I’m not a good listener. The other day a team member said that I don’t hear what he is saying and that I should brush up on my active listening skills. I don’t know what he meant.

Can you give me some guidelines?

w&t_exclamation

I Answer

Effective listening skills are of crucial importance in business, especially if you want to hear beyond what a customer is saying. It is important to understand the difference between Passive Listening and Active Listening, for both encompass a set of skills you need in order to be effective in your communication with colleagues and customers.

w&t_binoculars

I Explain

Passive listening techniques focus on keeping the communication flowing. It encourages the speaker to open up.

Passive listening

  • Pay attention to the speaker.
  • Avoid judgmental or defensive responses.
  • Exert mild pressure on the speaker to keep on talking, explaining and elaborating.
  • Create the space the speaker needs to verbalize his real needs, opinion or doubts.

Acknowledgement

Can simply be done by nodding the head and leaning forward, or through the use of expressions like:

  • “I see”
  • “Yes…”
  • “Hmm…”
  • “Really”, etc.

Avoid evaluative acknowledgments like:

  • “That’s good!”
  • “Excellent!”
  • “Your right.”, etc.

Door openers

Door openers are responses from the listener that encourage the speaker to open up to talk about their needs, expectations, concerns, doubts and fears:

  • “Tell me more about that..”
  • “Help me to understand what you are saying regarding…”
  • “I’m interested to hear what you think of…”
  • “I’d like to hear what you feel about…”
  • “I’d like to hear what you are saying about…”
w&t_elephant

I Advise

Listening is not about keeping quiet, it’s about getting involved in what the speaker is saying and facilitating additional communication.

w&t_question

I Ask

And what about Active Listening?

w&t_exclamation

I Answer

Active Listening is about ensuring that the receiver in the communication decodes the message transmitted by the sender correctly. Active listening closes the loop in communication, providing feedback to the sender.

The active listener verbally shares impressions or understanding with the sender by paraphrasing back perceptions of the message.

w&t_ch5_o_productive-listening

The following phrases may be used when you want to check your understanding and you wish to create the opportunity for the sender to correct you if you have missed the point, or to elaborate further on the sender’s needs, expectations, doubts, etc.

When you are certain you understand what has been said:

  • “What I hear you saying is…”
  • “From your point of view…”
  • “I’m picking up that you…”
  • “As you see it…”
  • “What I really hear you saying, is that…”
  • “It seems to you…”
  • “You feel…”

When you are less certain that you understand, the following creates the opportunity for the sender to correct you:

  • “I think I hear you saying…”
  • “I wonder if I am correct when I say that…”
  • “It appears you..”
  • “I’m not sure I’m wrong with you but…”
  • “Correct me if I am wrong but…”
  • “Is it possible that…”
  • “Let me see if I understand you…”
w&t_elephant

I Advise

I trust you understand what was meant by Listening beyond what the customer is saying.

Acting upon this information is the true key to agility in business.

About Unre Visagie
I am a master coach with 30 years of career and business coaching experience. I have built and sold many of my own multi-million dollar companies. I have always built my companies based on the principle of successful people make a successful company. I invest in people. As your coach you get 30 years of experience to help you do the work you love and earn the salary you want.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

mana May 23, 2011 at 4:42 pm

hello i am very confuse in active and passive voice any body help me plsssssssssssssssssss

Unre Visagie June 24, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Hi Mana, thanks for the question!

Here is a clear explanation: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/539/01/

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