How to Listen Effectively

6 December 2021
Richard Lilley
Female counsellor talking to a female patient in an office

Becoming a good listener is actually a bit of an art.

Here are CPI's top tips to listening effectively:

1) Listen to understand the other person

Allowing the person the chance to express themselves will give us a greater understanding of the situation and how we can influence it in a positive way.

2) Allow time to process

We don’t like uncomfortable silences during a conversation; however, silence can be a positive thing. It is giving the individual time to process, reflect and verbalise their thoughts. It also allows us to process, reflect and measure our response.

3) Remain flexible, let the situation evolve

Having a plan before engaging with a distressed individual will help to give us confidence. Having a back up plan allows us to adapt to a changing situation.

4) Create a conducive environment

We want to conduct the conversation in a private and quiet space where we can give the individual our undivided attention without being disturbed. Try and pick a space that has a calming feel, that doesn’t feel too cluttered with furniture and has natural light.

5) Listen to facts and feelings

Effective listening is about recognising that all behaviour is trying to communicate something to us. Their verbal communication through the words that they use will give us factual information. Feelings are not always communicated verbally, but we can also pick up on these through the way that they say things (paraverbal communication) and their non-verbal communication.

6) Paraphrase what you understand

Summarising back to the individual our understanding of the situation is important as it will allow is to check that we are truly understanding the messages that are being communicated.

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