Body language for active listening

Alan Gurney Nov 28, 2016

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Do you often find it hard to understand the messages your colleagues are trying to convey? Perhaps you're not being fully attentive?

An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.

Learning body language can feel odd, and it's likely you'll be doing some of these already without being aware of them. However, the more conscious you are of these four factors the easier active listening will be for you:

  • Make sure you face the speaker
  • Move closer to the speaker
  • Incline your head towards the speaker
  • Hold eye contact for longer

Put these into practice the next time you have a conversation with a colleague. You'll be able to understand what they are communicating better, but also be more attentive to the speaker’s messages, both verbal and physical.

It will help you read whether they are comfortable, anxious or stressed, or whether there's a disconnect between what they are saying and the way they look.

If you’re looking to improve the communication skills in your team check out our Communication, Influence & Teams course.

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