The Art of Active Listening: How to Listen with Empathy and Build Stronger Relationships

Communication is a great channel for building relationships, but active listening is an important tool that strengthens these connections with people. Active listening can help build relationships and create meaningful connections with others especially when you do it with empathy. However, simply hearing someone isn’t enough, you must understand and exhibit the intricacy of active listening skills to build strong relationships. 

If you have been struggling with building strong connections with people, learning the art of active listening may be your best bet at solving this problem. And guess what? This article carries all the necessary information you need about active listening. It showcases how active listening can help you empathise with people you speak with to build strong relationships with them. So, stick around.

What is Active Listening?

This is the practice of listening to understand and empathise with the speaker by assessing situations from their lenses and perspectives. Active listening can improve communication, build stronger relationships, and create a greater sense of understanding and empathy between people. This skill is a great communication tool that notices both verbal and non-verbal communication cues. 

It reads the spoken words, body language, speaking tone and facial expressions of the speaker for a better understanding of their message.  All these cues help you to understand the intention of a speaker without asking them. Concurrently, you get to engage in the conversation with better responses and comments when you actively listen to the speaker in the conversation.

Simple Ways To Listen Actively With Empathy To Build Stronger Relationships 

  1. Be present: No one listens actively by being distracted and unfocused on the conversations. It is good to pay full attention to the speaker to get a good part of the message they are passing. To become fully present in the conversation, try to use your sight and sound senses in observing and absorbing what the speaker is saying. Your eyes and ears are the best part of this skill as they help you attain the full focus you need to listen actively.
  1. See the non-verbal messages: Here is why your sight senses must be at play too to achieve a good and active listening activity. Facial expressions and body movements can mean different emotions from the speaker. You can easily read anger or tiredness over your speaker’s face and not hear it in their voice. Yeah! Some people are good at masking their emotions in their voice tone. And for those that can’t mask it, you can easily detect their mood from their voices and adjust to the conversation atmosphere moderately. 

Smiling or grinning while speaking may depict excitement about the subject of discussion too. Hence, it is important to look out for these cues as you aim to actively listen to people. Being able to detect some of these emotions can improve how you empathise with those that speak with you.

  1. Ask questions: to fully be a part of a conversation, engage the speakers with questions. Questions like “what do you think could be different?” “How can we improve the state of this matter?” are open to more discussions and lead-ons for more explanatory conversation. Avoid asking only “yes or no” questions as they usually lead to a one-off answer that can cut the conversation short. This would deny you the chance to get full details of the situation.
  1. Be patient: As much as you would love to ask questions to keep the conversation going, remember you aim to listen actively. With this, you would need enough patience to be able to listen fully to the speaker as they share as much information as they want. Endeavour to not interrupt them as this may cut their train of thought short.
  1. Maintain eye contact: Looking into the eyes of your conversation partner can show how much interest you have in hearing all they have to say. But don’t overdo it too. Use four to five seconds when making eye contact and then divert your eye focus for seconds before looking back at all. Do this timely and moderately and watch your speaker keep talking. 
  1. Recount what you hear: It is always good to be sure you are understanding your speaker through the angle they want you to. Retell your speaker a summarised version of what you have listened to them say and ask if your understanding of it is the correct one. As you know, perspectives differ and it is perspective that fuels what we make of the information. Hence, recounting what you have heard is a good way to confirm your active listening skill.

Wrapping up 

Being present in a conversation, asking relevant and open-ended questions, maintaining eye contact and other relative techniques of active listening shows your speaker how much you care about the information they share with you. It signals to them that you are ready to understand their opinions and see from the point of view of the matter at hand. People sense empathy from anyone that displays any of these actions when they speak to them. 

Thus, they tend to look forward to speaking with you more if you exhibit these active listening skills. And relationship strength works like a muscle memory too, the more you engage a particular person the stronger your connection with them. And to keep someone hooked to speaking with you, active listening is a good tool to start with.

For more helpful tips on building stronger relationships, go to our blog page now.

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