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Active Listening: Communication Skill

There’s more to being a good listener than hearing the words another person says. For effective communicators, listening is an active process, rather than a passive one. An active listener is a participant in a conversation—not just an audience.

The Active Listening worksheet breaks the communication skill into three steps: show you’re listening, encourage sharing, and strive to understand. The worksheet describes skills for each step, such as using verbal and nonverbal cues and asking open-ended questions.

Although none of the individual skills are complicated, they can be difficult to use consistently. After reviewing the skills in the handout, take turns role-playing as an active listener and speaker. Pay attention to the client’s use (or lack of use) of skills in future sessions, and provide feedback as needed.

This handout is valuable for couples, social skills training, and for anyone working toward improving their communication.

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1. Bogdanoski, T. (2009). The importance and challenge of active listening in mediation. Australasian Dispute Resolution Journal, 20(4), 201-206.

2. Fassaert, T., van Dulmen, S., Schellevis, F., & Bensing, J. (2007). Active listening in medical consultations: Development of the Active Listening Observation Scale (ALOS-global). Patient Education and Counseling, 68(3), 258-264.

3. Weger Jr, H., Castle, G. R., & Emmett, M. C. (2010). Active listening in peer interviews: The influence of message paraphrasing on perceptions of listening skill. The International Journal of Listening, 24(1), 34-49.

4. Weger Jr, H., Castle Bell, G., Minei, E. M., & Robinson, M. C. (2014). The relative effectiveness of active listening in initial interactions. The International Journal of Listening, 28(1), 13-31.

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