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6 Phrases You Can Use for Active Listening

(This article is adapted from an article by Amanda Zantal-Wiener that appeared on Hubspot.)

Active listening, also called Reflective Listening, benefits both parties in a conversation. It helps to insure that the speaker is actually being heard. But it also is good for the listener, as it allows you to put distractions and preemptive judgments (well-intended or not) aside. It will not only prevent you from missing important details, but also, can help teach you how to tune out unnecessary interruptions while focusing on other important tasks.

Incorporating the six phrases below into your conversations is a great way to become a better listener. When someone is speaking to you, keep these in mind, and if you feel your attention starting to drift, or a notification appears on your phone, or you begin thinking ahead, come back to your mental list of these phrases to demonstrate and execute active listening.

So here our six common phrases you can use to demonstrate active listening:

1) “Do you mean … ?”

Alternatives

“I’m not sure I understand.”

“Could you tell me a bit more about that?”

2) “It sounds like … ”

Alternatives

“What I’m hearing is … ”

“You seem a bit … ”

3) “Really?”

Alternatives

“When?”

“How?”

“You’re kidding.”

4) “I’ve noticed that … ”

This isn’t limited to the spoken word — you want to clarify what nonverbal behavior could indicate, too.

5) “Let me make sure I’ve got this right.”

Alternatives

“These are the main points I’ve heard you make so far.”

“Let’s make sure I’m hearing you correctly.”

“Let’s pause to make sure we’re on the same page.”

6) “I’m sorry. That really sucks.”

Alternatives

“I’m sorry you’re going through that.”

“What a crappy situation to be in. I’m sorry.”

“That’s rough. How can I help?”

Listen Carefully

We all have plenty on our plate and we often feel enough there isn’t enough time. There’s always a deadline, and there’s always somewhere you need to be. It can be hard to genuinely pay attention, especially when you’ve got a long to-do list that’s occupying your mental energy.

But as we all know, active listening doesn’t just benefit your conversational counterpart—you also stand to gain from it. From making sure you don’t miss important details, to exercising focus for an important task, putting these phrases into practice can help you become a proactive, empathetic listener.

What are your go-to phrases to demonstrate active or reflective listening?

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