What Is Active Listening?

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What Is Active Listening?

Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman of The Gottman Institute have studied marriages and relationships for about 40 years. Their goals are to help repair the struggling marriages and also stimulate the happy ones. They have coined the term “active listening.” Active listening is more than just listening. With active listening, the individual is concentrating on what the other person is saying — not just simply hearing what they are saying. Active listening requires one’s full attention while also showing interest in what the other person is saying. Those struggling with their mental health often have trouble participating in active listening. They also struggle with interpersonal relationship skills. These are their tips for active listening:

  1. Focus on being interested, not interesting.
  2. Start by asking questions.
  3. Look for commonalities.
  4. Tune in with all your attention.
  5. Communicate you are listening with a nod/sound.
  6. Paraphrase what the speaker says.
  7. Validate the speaker’s emotions.
  8. Maintain eye contact.
  9. Let go of your own agenda.
  10. Turn off the TV.

For those struggling with their interpersonal relationship skills, following these 10 skills of active listening can increase your skillset in your relationships. Pinnacle Recovery will discuss why each of these is important to do when trying to be an active listener. 

  1. If you are focusing on being interesting while the other person is talking, you are already not listening to what they are saying. If you are already thinking about your response while the other person is talking, you aren’t participating in active listening. 
  2. Asking questions is important because it shows you are interested in what the other person is saying.
  3. Making note of things you have in common with the other person is always a good idea because you are focusing on what they are saying, while also noting possible questions you can ask them.
  4. Giving your full attention to the person speaking is a key part of active listening. If you are focusing on everything around the other person, you aren’t truly listening.
  5. Using verbal or nonverbal cues such as a nod or sound shows the other person that you are interested in what they are saying, while also encouraging them to keep talking. 
  6. Paraphrasing what the other person is saying reinforces that you are listening to what they are saying.
  7. Validating the other person’s emotions is important because you are showing them that what they are saying truly matters.
  8. Eye contact is important to use because it shows the other person that you are engaged with them.
  9. Letting go of your agenda for the conversation helps you because you are focused on whatever the conversation may bring along, and not just on what you were trying to say.
  10. Turning off the TV or other distractions helps you focus on active listening. 

Pinnacle Recovery wants to help you learn more about interpersonal relationship skills. This is why we employ trained and experienced staff to lead our groups, such as DBT. Call today for more information about how we can help you. We can be reached at 1-866-301-0573. We can’t wait to hear from you!

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