Active Listening: The New Superpower

by Jessica Delaney, Principal, Engagement + Strategic Communications

Really listening, cutting out the noise of social media, other people and one’s wandering mind, is a superpower. The good news is that unlike jumping over a building, this superpower can be learned, practiced and refined. Active listening is about putting one’s self aside and really seeing someone. It’s about listening without preparing to respond, but rather being on receive.

Here are three tips for how to practice your active listening superpower.

  1. Prime yourself for listening: put away your device, close your email, and make time to be on receive. If your kids are screaming in the background, notifications are going off on your device and you are dashing off to your next zoom call, it will be nearly impossible to be in an active listening state. Clear the distractions and make time to tune in.
  2. Bring curiosity: Even if you are having a conversation with someone you don’t agree with, be curious about it. When you come to a conversation with curiosity, it means you need to park defensiveness and the need to be right. Great conversations are rarely a debate, and a debate needs at least two people. A curious person’s best response is: “tell me more about that.”
  3. Listening position: There are physical ways you can help prime yourself to listen: sit up straight, maintain eye contact, make sounds of recognition (hmmm, oh, interesting), and keep your feet well grounded.

Active listening is always in style. It’s always been a superpower, but we need it more than ever now when we are socially distant and not as able to connect in-person. My promise to you is this: when you practice active listening, people will want to be around you more, feel more connected and the richness of your interactions will increase.

Always listening, let me know your tips for active listening.