Essay about Active Listening Strategies within Effective Communication

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Listening is a skill that requires active, rather than passive, participation to advance shared understanding and minimise misinterpretation. Active listening strategies such as analysing and displaying non-verbal body language, clarifying meaning and accuracy, expressing understanding for the speaker’s feelings through empathy and moments of silence contribute to effective communication. These methods encourage the speaker to convey his or her thoughts and minimises misinterpretation between sender and receiver.

In order to discuss this topic it is necessary to determine the definition of the terms effective communication and active listening. Effective communication occurs when there is a shared understanding between sender and
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When used consciously, these gestures can purposefully demonstrate interest to the speaker, encouraging the speaker to continue talking (Theobald & Cooper 2004: 105). As the speaker continues more information is given. The listener is then able to collect the verbal and non-verbal data to gain a better understanding of what is being communicated.

In addition to non-verbal body language, clarify meaning and accuracy assists the listener to gain an understanding of what is being said and helps to minimise misinterpretation. Misinterpretation occurs when a message is not understood as the sender had intended (Duck & McMahan 2009: 18). Carl Rogers advises that ‘a good rule of thumb is to assume that you never really understand until you can communicate this understanding to the others satisfaction’ (1987: 4). Clarifying meaning and accuracy can be achieved by asking questions and paraphrasing. Paraphrasing allows the listener to check the accuracy of their interpretation of the speaker’s meaning by restating what has been said in different words (Turner & West 2009: 208; DeVito 2011: 66). This can also help the listener to gain full understanding as paraphrasing often encourages the speaker to extend on what has already been said (DeVito 2011: 66). Asking questions also adds to understanding and minimises misinterpretation (DeVito 2011: 66; Eunson 2008: 320). Eunson (2008: 319,321) states that asking questions such as what, how