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active listening

Active Listening: Unleash Your Potential For Success

Active listening will radically alter your life. This simple technique may not seem like much, but active listening can revolutionize how you approach important areas like school, work, and relationships. Unlike many other life skills, you do not have to wait to see the benefits of active listening in your life, as many of the impacts are immediate. Become an active listener today!

What is Active Listening?

The Decision Lab says that active listening can be defined as a communication strategy where complete and undivided attention is given to the person who is speaking. Seems easy, right? But it’s harder than you may think. 

Active listening is, well, active. It requires concentration and critical thinking to determine what a speaker is attempting to communicate. It can help you get to the truth of what people are actually saying, rather than substituting their verbal and nonverbal communication with what you want to or think you hear.  

Unfortunately, not many people listen well. Instead, when in conversation, people tend to multitask, daydream, or think only about what they want to say. These acts are distracting from the discussion taking place and can lead to major miscommunications. Remember, people notice when you truly hear them. Whether you’re at school, at home, or work, active listening can improve your relationships and outcomes. 

How To Actively Listen

Here are some tips on how to become an active listener:

  • Pay attention to the speaker. This means giving them your full attention, both verbally and nonverbally. Make eye contact, nod your head, and use other gestures to show that you’re listening.
  • Listen for the meaning behind the words. Don’t just focus on the literal meaning of what the speaker is saying. Also pay attention to their tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions to get a better sense of what they’re really trying to say.
  • Ask questions. If you’re not sure what the speaker means, ask them to clarify. This will help you to understand their point of view and to build rapport.
  • Paraphrase what the speaker has said. This is a great way to show that you’ve been listening and to make sure that you’ve correctly understood what they’ve said.

From improving your communication skills to fostering deeper and more meaningful relationships, the benefits of active listening are truly endless. So, let’s dive in and discover how this enriching practice can transform your world.  

You’ll Learn More

In general, every student wants good grades. High marks feel like proof of one’s intelligence and effort, and they are considered valuable by parents and peers. However, we can all agree that one’s GPA is far less important than what is actually learned. In one study conducted by Harvard Business Review, students who took an active listening course improved information comprehension by at least 25% compared to when they began the course. Some students even improved by 40%!

Active listening can help you: 

  • Better understand information. When you focus on the speaker’s overall message, you more clearly grasp the speaker’s intent and see the big picture.
    • For example, if your teacher is teaching a topic you’ve already learned about and you remain engaged rather than assume you have learned everything there is to know, you’ll likely refresh your understanding on what you already know and even learn something new.  Active listening helps reinforce information because paying attention means that you are far more likely to remember what you have heard. Listening well allows you to process the information more effectively by anchoring the information to what you already know, which commits it to your long-term memory.
  • Ask high-quality questions. When you actively listen, you are more likely to ask meaningful questions to clarify your understanding. This helps you to learn more effectively and to avoid misunderstandings.
    • To illustrate this more clearly, put yourself in this scenario: You are struggling in class and want to raise your grades. You decide to use active listening to your advantage so you can understand the material better. You begin to listen for patterns in what the teacher is saying, notice any points of special emphasis, and make points of connection between the material you are currently learning to lessons you have already learned. This helps you understand more, which ultimately earns you a high grade in the class and provides you with several tools for excelling in the next class. 
  • Build relationships with others. Active listening shows that you are engaged in the conversation and that you value the speaker’s input. When people feel heard, it minimizes miscommunication and improves the quality of the relationship.
    • Suppose that you find yourself assigned to work with a fellow student who you’ve never hung out with before.  They are telling you about their lives in an effort to get to know you. You return the effort through active listening and sharing about yourself. You will likely find that you are far more comfortable working alongside them on team projects and in study grous. As a bonus, you might have just earned yourself a new life-long friend.

Active listening is a skill that takes practice, but it is well worth the effort. By actively listening, you can learn more effectively, improve your academic performance, and build meaningful relationships.  

active listening

You’ll Attain Success

Active listening is a powerful career skill. Many professionals, despite their vast education and experience, still struggle to actively listen. But as the workplace becomes increasingly complex and interconnected, the ability to effectively communicate with others is essential. If you can master the skill of active listening, you will be well-positioned for success in your career.

Active listening is important in your career because it can help you:

  • Network. When you actively listen to your managers, colleagues, and clients, you show them that you value their input and that you’re interested in what they have to say. This can help you build stronger relationships with them, which can lead to increased opportunities for networking, collaboration, and promotion.
    • For example, you might end up speaking to a client about their needs for a new product. If you actively listen to the client’s needs and ask questions to clarify anything you don’t understand, you will show the client that you’re committed to meeting their expectations. The client is much more likely to return and even refer others if they feel that they are heard and valued. 
  • Resolve conflicts. When there’s a disagreement, active listening can help you to understand the other’s perspective and to find a solution that works for everyone involved.
    • Imagine that you’re having a disagreement with a colleague. If you actively listen to your colleague’s perspective and try to understand where they’re coming from, this will demonstrate to your colleague that you’re open to their ideas and that you’re willing to compromise. This increases the chance that your colleague will be willing to listen to your ideas in turn, making the disagreement much easier to resolve. 
  • Improve all your communication skills. When you actively listen, you’re not just listening to the words, you’re also paying attention to nonverbal cues like the speaker’s tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions. This helps you to understand the speaker’s meaning more fully and to respond in a way that is both clear and concise.
    • Picture yourself in a business meeting. The project manager is explaining the new project. As you listen, you make sure to pay attention to more than just what your manager is saying, but how they are delivering their message through their body language and tone. You realize that your boss may be feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. Because you understand how your boss may be feeling, you are able to adjust and speak diplomatically about any concerns you have with the project, getting your point across despite the difficulty of the situation. 

It’s clear: if you want a successful career, start practicing active listening today. It’s a skill that will benefit you in every aspect of your professional life. 

You’ll Improve Relationships

Active listening is the key to building strong relationships. It’s not just about hearing what the other person is saying, it’s about understanding and responding to them in a way that shows you care. Active listening will equip you to handle tough emotional conflicts with compassion, grace, and intelligence. 

Here are some of the benefits active listening has on relationships:

  • Build stronger bonds. When you are an engaged listener with your loved ones, you’re showing them that you care about what they have to say. This can help create a deeper level of trust.
    • For example, if your friend is telling you about one of their passions, using active listening can demonstrate that you care. This builds their trust in you and solidifies the friendship further. 
  • Be more supportive. When you actively listen to someone who is going through a difficult time, you’re displaying your concern, love, and dedication. This can help them feel supported.
    • Let’s say your significant other just suffered a great loss. If you actively listen to their grief rather than just attempting to fix the situation, your partner is more likely to feel that you are reliable and loving. This will lead to a stronger and ultimately more rewarding relationship.  
  • Make better decisions. When you actively listen to all sides of an issue, you’re better equipped to make informed choices that are in the best interests of all involved.
    • Sometimes balancing your family’s needs with your own can be difficult. For instance, let’s pretend that your parents want you to spend the summer working and you would prefer to spend the summer taking a summer class that reflects one of your passions. If you listen to your parent’s side of things in addition to respectfully expressing your own, you will be more equipped to find a solution that works for both of you. This results in a more harmonious home with less frustration on both your parts.  

Remember, listening to your loved ones is about practically expressing your love for them. You may miss out on an opportunity to strengthen your relationships if you make conversation errors of judgment, distraction, or self-centeredness. Focus on active listening instead! Furthermore, active listening is a favor that can be repaid when you need a listening ear later. 


Take advantage of all active listening has to offer. It may take some effort and practice, but the benefits are well worth it. You’ll find that people respond more positively to you, that you are better able to connect with others, and that you have a deeper understanding of the world around you. So, the next time you find yourself in a conversation, try to approach it with curiosity, patience, and an open mind. You may be surprised at how much you can learn and how much richer your interactions can become.  Educate. Radiate. Elevate. is a nonprofit tutoring organization dedicated to helping students master critical skills such as active listening, empathy, and advocacy. In today’s world, students need to be armed with these valuable soft skills more than ever. Make a tangible difference in the lives of young people and donate today!

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