Language and Linguistics

Active listening and Signals indicating the correct active listening

Active listening

he active listening is a skill that can be learned and developed through practice. However, it can be difficult to master, since you have to be patient and take some time to develop it properly. Active listening definition

Active listening refers, as the name implies, to listen actively and with full awareness . Therefore, active listening is not to hear the other person, but to be totally focused on the message that the other individual tries to communicate.

Active listening: listen and understand communication from the point of view of the speaker

Although it may seem that active listening is an easy task, this type of listening requires an effort of our cognitive and empathic abilities . Knowing how to listen is very important in communication, and although it may not seem like it, on many occasions we spend a lot of time pending what we think and what we say instead of actively listening to the other. Active listening and its properties

Active listening is not passive listening, but refers to the ability to hear not only what the person is expressing directly, but also the feelings, ideas or thoughts that underlie what they are trying to express. In active listeningempathy is important to place yourself in the place of the other, but also  Emotional Validation , acceptance and feedback , because it must be heard without judging and it is necessary to communicate to the other person who has been understood. Therefore, there are two elements that facilitate active listening, are the following:

  • Psychological disposition : internal preparation is important, being in the present moment, paying constant attention and observing the other: identifying the content of what he says, the objectives and feelings.
  • Expression that the other interlocutor is being listened to with verbal communication, in what is known as the speech function of language ( I see, umm, uh , etc.) and  nonverbal language (eye contact, gestures, body inclination, etc.).

What not to do in active listening

Here are  some errors that may occur when listening to the other person :

  • Distract during the conversation
  • Interrupt the speaker
  • Judge it and want to impose your ideas
  • Offer help prematurely and with lack of information
  • Reject and not validate what the other is feeling
  • Disqualify when giving your opinion
  • Tell your own story instead of listening to theirs

Signals indicating the correct active listening

There are several signs that show the other person that he is actively listening. Below are the verbal and nonverbal signals of active listening, so you can be able to adapt your communicative style to a better understanding and understanding of your interlocutor. Active listening definition

1. Nonverbal cues

People who actively listen often show the following nonverbal cues:

Eye contact

Eye contact shows the other person that he is paying attention to what he says and feels and, in addition, can show sincerity. Combining eye contact with other verbal and nonverbal cues shows interest in what the other person is expressing. Active listening and its properties

Light smile

This assures the interlocutor that the information he is transmitting is being well received and motivates him to keep talking. Therefore, it acts as a reinforcer, in addition to giving a message of empathy.

Receptive body posture

The position gives information of the sender and the receiver in the communication process. The person who actively listens tends to lean slightly forward or sideways while sitting.


The automatic reflex or mirroring any facial expression of the speaker can be a sign of attentive listening. These expressive gestures seem to indicate sympathy and empathy in emotional situations. On the contrary, the conscious imitation of facial gestures (not automatic) seems to be a sign of inattention.

No distraction

The active listener is not going to be distracted, since his attention is on the verbal and nonverbal signals that he emits in the listener. Active listening definition

2. Verbal cues

Issue words of reinforcement or compliments

These types of verbalizations reinforce the speaker‘s speech by transmitting that one validates their point of view. Phrases such as “you did very well”, “I like it when you are sincere” or “you must be very good at playing football”, show attention from the person who listens. Although these phrases can be positive, they should not be used excessively, as they can distract the issuer.


Paraphrasing refers to verifying or expressing with your own words what it seems the speaker has just said . In this way, it is possible for the sender to inform the receiver if the latter has understood the message well. An example of paraphrasing can be: “Do you mean that you felt this way …?”


A person who dominates the ability of active listening usually summarizes what the other party has just communicated. This helps to make it clear that the point of view of the other is understood before exposing their own. Active listening definition

Ask questions

The listener can show that he has been attentive when asking relevant questions. In this way you can clarify the information you have received and show interest in what the issuer tries to communicate. Active listening definition

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