Your browser is out of date.

Some content may be lost or will not be displayed correctly.

Please install a more recent version of your browser.

Update your browser

Communication is listening. It is not enough to hear what the other person is saying.

Bright Plus

2 min. reading time

The person who listens will also understand what they hear. Focus, interest and empathy are crucial here. Good news: active listening can be learned.



Keep the outside world really outside. Make sure you can concentrate well and remove any chances of being disturbed. For example, turn off your phone or forward calls. Put other appointments 'on hold'. As for taking notes, better do that afterwards.



More than just interest

You definitely need to show genuine interest in your interlocutor, but you should even display a bit more than that. Empathy or the ability to identify with someone's feelings makes you try to stand in the other person's shoes. Going along with their story is not the same as showing sympathy, or compassion.

Body talk

Be sensitive to nonverbal cues, both the ones you and others give out. Use an open, inviting body language, by not sitting back with your arms crossed, for example. Instead, lean forward and offer the other person a listening ear. At the same time, keep an eye on your interlocutor's body language. Fiddling with one's hands, for example, indicates a person's hesitation, or uneasiness. Try to put them at ease by giving them encouragement and reassurance.

Eye contact is essential! This is how you say: I am here for you.


Here's a handy mnemonic: LSQ = Listen, Summarise and Question further.

Repeat what you've heard to check that you've come to the correct interpretation. For example, ask for confirmation that you have understood the message properly and above all accurately. Do not judge; instead, continue with open questions. 'How' and 'What' questions are the most effective. 'Why' questions should be avoided, as they will set your interlocutor on the defensive. Your intent should not be to give the person the feeling that they have to justify themselves.

Time is (not always) money

Taking time is worth gold, but so is giving time. In terms of active listening this is an investment that will pay off considerably. Do not restrict the time of the conversation and show that you are taking the necessary time. Give time and opportunities to rest. Avoid rushing to cut in. Allow your interlocutor to express themselves. And remember that silence, too, can be productive, to provide some space for thoughts, yours and the other person's.

At the workplace

There is no hierarchy in active listening. Instead of giving the conversation an official dimension, go for an informal environment. This is not an interrogation. Consider your partner as worthy of your consideration, irrespective of any possible professional hierarchy. Mutual respect creates openness.

A solution?

There is no end to active listening in professional and daily life. A person who wants to get something off their chest needs a listening ear. If the conversation does not lead to a happy ending, no problem! Active listening offers a form of constructive support, which in fact already contributes to the solution to a large extent.

Is active listening working for you? Everywhere and whatever the circumstances? We really value your experiences and tips. Do share them here with us.