Active Listening is an important skill to have if you are in a conflict, but also in everyday life. By active listening we mean that you actually listen – and not just think of something else or play on your phone while someone is talking.

Active listening means that you listen with all your senses, and respond to the speaker by nodding your head, use other non-verbal signs of listening or agreeing by saying small words such as ‘ ahaa’ or ‘ m’hmm’. When you do these gestures it becomes easier for the speaker to feel comfortable telling a story and as a result it will open up for better communication and the speaker will feel more open and honest.

Have you ever been in a situation where you are super exited about telling your friends something?  But your friends might just focus on their phone or you can see on their body language that they don’t really care about what you are telling them? How does that make you feel? Do you want to continue telling them your story then? I don’t believe so. Communication will just stop, and you might even become a little upset at your friends. Think about that next time you are the listener and your friend have something they really want to tell.


(Picture from here)




Active listening used in conflict resolution: 

When you find yourself trying to solve a conflict, an important aspect is to actively listen. You should not  only hear what the other person is saying, but what you have to do is to really understand what the person is saying. Pay attention!  Show this attention by using your body language and ask follow up questions – ‘What did you mean when you said that? ‘. When you do this, don’t ask questions in a middle of a sentence, but wait until a point is being made by the speaker and then start follow up with questions.

Then you can also repeat some of the words the other person is saying – Repeat by saying ‘ I hear you are saying…’ or ‘ what I get from this is that you are saying…’ This can make it easier to understand what is being said, but also reassure the speaker that they are being heard correctly. By repeating we make sure we avoid misunderstandings. This does not mean that you should interrupt or start coming with counter arguments – take it easy and be calm.

Being an active listener might seem easy, but in fact it takes effort, mostly because when you are in a conflict it is so easy to become irrational and busy thinking of arguments to support your view rather then understanding and paying attention to what is being said.

By being an active listener the benefits are huge, and you can avoid many conflicts- because many times a conflict could just be an unfortunate situation that could have been avoided if we listened more to each other.