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Active Listening

by Randall Craig on October 14, 2008

Filed in: Blog, Communication, Make It Happen Tipsheet

Tagged as: , , ,

If you are in a meeting, and the speaker seems to be repeating themselves, is it their fault… or yours? While it is true that communication is tough, could it be that they are repeating themselves because they “see” that you aren’t listening? They reason – sometimes subconsciously – that repetition brings retention.

To signal other meeting participants that you are in tune with the conversation requires active listening. And in those cases when you begin tuning out, active listening skills will get you back on track. Active listening both increases your connection with the subject matter under discussion, and increases the speaker’s confidence in you. It is a key career skill, whether you are listening to your your colleagues, a sales prospect, or in an interview.

How to listen actively:

  • Sit up straight in your chair – don’t slouch, lean to the side, or recline.
  • Take notes as you listen – but keep your eye on the speaker
  • Ask meaningful questions
  • Incorporate the speaker’s points into your next comment
  • Interject with “yes”, “mmmm”, “ok”
  • Use your body language to acknowledge their points: nod, smile, etc.
  • Summarize your understanding of the conversation
  • Summarize any mutual action items

This week’s action item: Active listening isn’t just something you do – it’s something that everyone should do. If you don’t feel that your colleagues, friends, or family are actively listening to you, give them some pointers – or send them this tipsheet. Not only will they learn how to actively listen, but they’ll learn how to actively listen to you.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)



Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at and

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