Coaching Corner: Active Listening

By Able Coach

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen R. Covey

Hello Readers! Let us take a step back and think. When we listen to another person speaking

Do we listen to understand or reply? I am sure you will agree with me that most of the time before the other person finishes, we are ready with an answer. Have a think, by replying immediately, did you achieve the purpose of the conversation? Has replying in such a manner, helped you develop a meaningful relationship with the other person?

My personal experience is that while giving a reply has occasionally been helpful, listening to understand has more beneficial effects.

Listening is one of the most important skills you can have. How well you listen has a major impact on your job effectiveness, and on the quality of your relationships with others.

We listen to obtain information, for entertainment and to understand. We do a lot of listening every day, we thus should be good at it. However, research shows that we only remember between 25 and 50 percent of what we hear! Thus almost 50 percent of the info is deleted from our memory! How to improve this?

We improve by a conscious process called active listening. Active listening is all about building rapport, understanding and trust. You actually hear what the other person is saying — not just what you think they are saying or what you want to hear.

It helps a person feel free to continue talking even if the person they are talking to doesn’t have a lot to offer the other person (other than their ear). This skill can be learnt.

The important active listening techniques are:

1.         PAY ATTENTION.

It is important to have presence of mind. Be in the moment. Look at the person speaking to you. Note the other person’s body language and vocal variety to understand the message clearly.


Our body language can be used to show the person we are listening and we are keen to listen to them. A simple smile, looking at their face or a nod will keep them engaged.

3.         CLARIFY.

Our personal filters, assumptions, judgments, and beliefs can distort what we hear. It is good to ask questions to clarify what you are uncertain about.

4.         DO NOT JUDGE

Active listening requires an open mind. As a listener, you need to be open to new ideas, new perspectives and new possibilities. Even if they have strong views, do not judge, hold their criticism and avoid arguing. Think through to understand where the other person is coming from.


Once the other person has completed what they wish to say, give your views in a respectful way. This encourages the other person to listen to you actively.

As I mentioned earlier, active listening requires a conscious effort. Practising it makes you a good listener and has a major impact on your job effectiveness, and on the quality of your relationships with others.

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