Skip to content

Active Listening

Font Size

Topic Overview

Active listening is a dynamic process that includes:

  • Paying attention to what another person is saying.
  • Thinking about what the person has just said.
  • Responding in a way that lets the person know that you understood what he or she was trying to say.

Hearing is different from listening. Hearing is a physical process. A person can hear what another person is saying without listening to the message.

Recommended Related to Sex & Relationships

Kissing: The Hot Love Habit That Makes You Both Happier

By Ayana Byrd   Have you ever wondered why we kiss? It's actually a strange way to spend your time  lips smooshed together, breath (good or bad) mingling, and let's not even get into the tongue action. Yet we love it. We cheer when movie characters seal their happily-ever-afters with a smooch. A bodies-pressed-together kiss can make you remember why you adore the man who was annoying you just a minute ago. Why is that? "For some women, kissing is even more intimate than intercourse," says...

Read the Kissing: The Hot Love Habit That Makes You Both Happier article > >

Listening is an active process of thinking about the meaning of the message that was heard. Sometimes two people do not interpret what they hear in the same way. A person's interpretation may vary according to personal values, beliefs, and past experiences.

Active listening requires the listener to check with the speaker to make sure that the message is interpreted in the way it was intended. To listen actively, a person needs to pay attention to the behaviors and tone of the speaker.

Active listening takes practice. When you want to actively listen to someone:

  • Provide privacy. When a person wants to talk about someone important to him or her, privacy may be essential. Find a quiet corner if no private place is available and talk in a low voice to help the person feel secure. Teens in particular need to feel that their conversations about important matters are kept private and confidential.
  • Reduce distractions. When listening to a person speak, turn off radios, televisions, and other noisy devices. Remove any articles that may distract you or the speaker. Do not try to do other things while you are listening.
  • Be present. Being present means listening to what the other person says and accepting the other person's thoughts and feelings even when they are different from yours. Being present also means not thinking about other things while the person is talking and resisting any urge to interrupt, judge, or argue with the speaker about his or her views.
  • Show that you are listening. Nod your head periodically and show your interest in what's being said by saying "please continue," "yes," or "tell me more."
1|2

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

feet
Solutions for 19 types.
MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
pregnancy test and calendar
Helping you get pregnant.
build a better butt
How to build a better butt.
lone star tick
How to identify that bite.
woman standing behind curtains
How it affects you.
brain scan with soda
Tips to avoid complications.
row of colored highlighter pens
Tips for living better.
psoriasis
How to keep flares at bay.
woman dreaming
What Do Your Dreams Say About You?
spinal compression fracture
Treatment options.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.