Active listening skills

While in school, staff rooms, workshops, every where teachers talk about education, there is a growing understanding of active teaching and active learning. But both cannot happen if there is no active listening skill.

People may hear but not necessarily listen. Hearing is the receiving of aural stimuli and listening is receiving and interpreting that aural stimuli. The process of making meaning out of what is heard would result in listening.

But in our regular conversations we observe ever so often that people listen passively and not actively. Listening passively is fine if for example, you are listening to music while working or reading.

But listening passively when in class, during meetings, or conversation with family, may not bode well for anyone.

So, before we get to active teaching in our classrooms, let us see what active listening may look like.

  • Be alert to what is being said.
  • Listen more and speak less.
  • Do not interrupt when someone is speaking even if you have a burning question that you may wish to ask. It is better to note it done for later.
  • Don’t let your thoughts wander. People can tell.
  • Take brief notes if needed.
  • Do not try to complete the sentences for the others. Learn to bite your tongue!
  • Think about the conversation and not about the person who is making a point.
  • Summarize the important points at the end of the conversation for yourself or by speaking them out at the end of the conversation.
  • Try not to dominate the conversation when working in groups. Allow others to speak.
  • Control your biases. Keep the questions specific to the conversation.
  • Try not to answer a question with a question.
  • Ask questions at the end if you have any. If you have been actively listening, you most probably will.

The same holds true for the adults too when they are speaking with children.

Because, active listening is a two way street.

“You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else

at the same time.”

— M. Scott Peck, author of “The Road Less Traveled”






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