The method of active listening in psychology: what it is, techniques and techniques

Active listening is a useful skill for establishing deep contact with your interlocutor and effectively finding a joint solution to issues. This is a difficult communication skill that can sometimes cause confusion. For many people, listening is a passive reception of information from people around them.

The attitude towards contact with an interlocutor was accurately described by the American satirist Mark Twain: “Most conversations are a monologue in the presence of witnesses.” But this position becomes a trap, falling into which we misinterpret the meaning of the conversation. The dialogue ends with misunderstandings, unpleasant feelings, and problems in relationships. How to avoid this?


This is a way of perceiving the speaker’s speech, thanks to which direct and indirect communication is established between the participants in the conversation. Indeed, the listening person is completely included in the conversation, he realizes and analyzes the essence of the interlocutor’s words, and also shows him his understanding.

It would seem how you can talk to someone and not hear him. In fact, it is in this superficial and one-sided way that most people interact. This happens because while one is speaking out, the other is going through his own thoughts in his head, formulating an answer, and taking into account his feelings. As a rule, when we hear some unpleasant phrase addressed to us, everything voiced after it remains unheard. Having caught on to what caused an emotional reaction, we switch from the rational to the sensual level, think about the answer and may even lose the thread of the dialogue.

When listening passively, it is extremely difficult to correctly grasp the essence of the statement. This ineffective way of interaction is indicated by the absence of a facial or physical reaction, or an emotional response. It seems that the listener is thinking about his own things and is not included in the discussion. This can offend and destroy any desire to communicate. The active listening technique assumes that interlocutors do not dwell on their experiences, but strive to hear and understand their opponent. This approach allows:

  • bring the conversation to a conclusion beneficial for both parties;
  • formulate correct, effective questions and get answers to them;
  • understand the true meaning of what was said;
  • improve contact and obtain important information.

Bottom line

People contact each other through communication. Speech is one of the ways to build relationships and connections. Active listening is a method of successfully establishing contacts between people who are interested in it. The result of its application can please and surprise many people.

The culture of modern communication is quite low. People talk a lot, often without listening to their interlocutors. When silence occurs, most often people are immersed in their own thoughts. And when a conversation arises, people try to interpret what they hear in their own way. All this leads to misunderstanding and incorrect decision-making based on the results.

Developing active listening eliminates all communication problems. Establishing friendly contacts is the initial advantage of this technique.


If you want to establish effective relationships with others, you will have to learn to speak and listen persuasively. Notice that when you are sincerely interested in the topic of discussion, you easily immerse yourself in it. This is also noticeable on a physical level: you turn to the interlocutor and lean towards him, showing that you are determined to take part in the conversation.

Active listening includes the following components:

  • Absolute acceptance of the speaker, absence of evaluative statements in his direction.
  • Using questions as an effective tool for engaging in conversation.
  • Avoiding topics that a person does not understand.

Now let's talk about specific techniques:

  • "Echo". This is a repetition of the opponent’s last phrases with a questioning intonation.
  • Paraphrasing. Summarizing what was said and briefly conveying the meaning: “Do I understand correctly, you mean that...?”
  • Interpretation. Making assumptions about the true intentions of the speaker.

Active listening techniques help a person show empathy, as well as clarify what they heard, place emphasis and clarify information.

Eye contact plays an important role:

  • Looking into the eyes means expressing interest in the speaker and what he is saying.
  • Observing the narrator suggests an interest in the opponent's personality, and not in the information he is sharing.
  • A detached gaze, looking at the surrounding space means either a lack of interest, or a desire to end the dialogue as soon as possible, or a feeling of discomfort.

Explicit examples and gestures of active listening: nods of the head as a sign of agreement that confirm understanding (“Of course,” “I understand what you mean”). But it is not recommended to complete his statement for a person and interrupt him, even if you know in which direction his thought will lead. It is necessary to let him personally formulate the idea that he wants to convey to you. With all this, we must not forget about the emotions of the speaker. Show empathy by paying attention to how your opponent feels and talk about it.

Psychologist Daria Milai

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Listening skills

During communication, it is important not only to speak expressively and competently, but also to be able to listen to the interlocutor. This is of great importance for mutual understanding with your counterpart.

To be able to listen means to perceive the flow of information from the narrator. A person’s level of culture will allow him to politely listen to his interlocutor and tactfully refrain from harsh statements and disdainful facial expressions.

The ability to listen depends on personality type, intelligence, communication culture, age, gender. Scientists have proven that women are emotional during listening, inattentive, and often interrupt the interlocutor with their own stories. Men, on the other hand, are able to listen to information to the end, mentally looking for ways to solve it.

Many professions involve listening skills. These are sellers, hairdressers, massage therapists, psychologists, doctors, teachers, administrators, consultants. Efficiency and a culture of listening are important for business communication. There are special techniques that facilitate the perception of information. Active listening will help support your interlocutor and show the significance of his story.

Psychological techniques

AssentConvince the narrator of your interest.“Yeah,” “uh-huh,” nodding.
ParaphrasingProve that you are listening and fully understand the entire dialogue.“So, you mean...”
Open questionsGet the full amount of information.“What”, “why”, “how”, “when”, “which”.
PauseAllow the speaker to organize his thoughts.Timely silence.
SummaryHighlight the main idea without connecting an emotional reaction"Thus…".
Closed questionsAgree with or refute the statement.A question that requires a “yes” or “no” answer.


We often use this technique in a conversation unconsciously: sometimes we tilt our heads, say “uh-huh,” “so,” “aha,” which allows the opponent to understand that you are completely committed to dialogue. The easiest way to observe an example of this method is in a telephone conversation: voicing agreement shows the person on the other line that you are listening, but prolonged silence makes you doubt your involvement.


However, silence is no less important when building contact. It helps the speaker to gather and formulate thoughts, and the listener to imagine the story and get into it. The art of placing such “silent” accents also needs to be learned: it is important to shut up at the right time.

Features of asking questions

There are two varieties: closed and open.

The first involves a short answer confirming or refuting a statement. Examples of active listening phrases in dialogue: “Are you angry?”, “Do you want me to be more caring?”, “The problem is that we don’t spend enough time together?”, “Have you thought about coming to a consultation with this problem?” Daria Milai?

The latter entail a more detailed response and require an explanation of the situation. They allow you to express your interest in the conversation: “Why do you think this is happening?”, “How could I help in solving this problem?”, “What is stopping you?”

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Involves voicing previously expressed thoughts, but in different words. This method gives the interlocutor confidence that he was understood correctly, or to clarify his position if it was interpreted incorrectly. To paraphrase, rely on the essence and content of the statement, and not on the emotions accompanying it:

  • “If I heard you correctly, then...”
  • “Are you saying that...”

But this technique can only be used when the opponent has logically completed his monologue or remark. There is no need to interrupt him.


With its help you can summarize everything that was said earlier. A summary is the ideas and feelings of the interlocutor, in a condensed form:

  • “Your main point is that...”
  • “To sum it up, then...”


This technique involves “attaching” to an opponent through various “channels”: intonation, speech, breathing.


The same phrases, spoken with different tones, can convey different meanings. Using this technique, people express certain emotions and states, so it is important to monitor not only what you express, but also how you do it. When establishing contact with a person, this method of identifying with him gives an incredible result. With proper intonation, you can achieve the impression of complete understanding and similarity, which, of course, encourages further interaction.


Represents the speed of speaking, as well as the duration of pauses and hesitations. If you speak too quickly, this indicates internal tension, as well as excitement. If your remarks, on the contrary, are slow and sluggish, this reflects some apathy. However, this speed or slowness also depends on the type of temperament of the individual. In any case, to reduce the nervousness that you feel yourself or from the person with whom you are talking, try to reduce the haste of your speech.


Breathing mirroring allows you to be on the same “plane” with your interlocutor, and then adjust it to the emotional wave you need. For example, if your friend is irritated and breathes quickly, you can first establish contact by feeling the frequency of the change in inhalation and exhalation and adjusting to it. And after the interaction occurs, try to rebuild it to other emotions, gradually starting to breathe more calmly.


An ordinary conversation involves a lot of omissions, omissions and understatements.
They are thought up by both sides in an arbitrary order, but with active perception this cannot be allowed. After all, the main goal is to extract the truthful and most complete information on the topic of the conversation, as well as to establish contact with a partner. Therefore, clarification performs two functions at once:

  • clarifies what is said through directed dialogue;
  • allows you to gently bypass the most pressing and painful issues.

This maintains mutual understanding and trust between interlocutors.

Effective technique in active listening “Reflection of feelings”: its techniques

Empathy involves the ability to empathize, put oneself in a friend’s place on an emotional level, and understand his true motives and ideas. This method of effective interaction can be achieved using:

  • Repetitions of the opponent’s experiences. By helping the speaker identify and realize his feelings, you achieve the effect of “kinship of souls,” increase the degree of trust and take communication to a qualitatively new level.
  • Expressing your mood. By talking about what you feel in the concept of an ongoing dialogue, you reduce the power of their impact on the mind, help the conversation become more open, and allow the interlocutor to also sincerely voice his experiences and feelings.

Pay attention to the voice of the speaker to understand his mood:

  • the occurrence of vocal spasms indicates internal tension;
  • coughing - speaks of lies and uncertainty in what was said;
  • sudden laughter that doesn't fit the situation indicates a lack of self-control.

Take into account all these nuances in the dialogue, but do not forget about the individual characteristics of a person: his speech in normal communication, as well as the existing physical prerequisites for a particular reaction (a cough, for example, can be caused by an illness).

Tips for a bad listener

It also happens that you should get rid of your interlocutor as quickly as possible. The reasons may be different: from reluctance to communicate with a specific person to reluctance to listen to long monologues. An alternative technology can be created based on active listening techniques. With its help, the interlocutor will feel a reluctance to communicate with him. What concepts do not apply to active listening techniques?

  • Silence, lack of emotional reaction to words, ignoring the interlocutor.
  • Constantly answering questions with questions.
  • Dismissive posture, facial expressions.
  • Interrupting the interlocutor, moving on to your own personal topics.
  • During a conversation, be distracted by phone calls and do other things.
  • Sharply criticize your interlocutor, immediately pointing out his mistakes and miscalculations.

This alternative technique should not be used constantly. People need communication and empathy. Only in rare exceptions should you remember which concepts do not apply to active listening techniques. It is best to politely explain that your counterpart has chosen the wrong time to talk. Try to avoid annoying interlocutors, giving preference to positive people.

Ways of understanding

It is very important to be interested in active listening methods and study what it is and how it relates to psychology. Having mastered this way of conducting a conversation, you will be able not only to hear the speaker, but also to understand more than just the meaning of the words, to feel his feelings, to realize ideas and motives. This understanding manifests itself on three levels:

  • Empathy is the feeling of the same emotions and experiences as the opponent.
  • Sympathy is an offer to sincerely help.
  • Sympathy is a positive attitude towards the speaker.

It is assumed that when listening, you focus not on your experiences and desires, but on the emotional state, interests and words of the interlocutor. By detaching, you do not express your position or assessment, but set as your goal support and immersion in the inner world of another person. Empathic techniques are also:

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  • Perception Message – “I understand that you are uncomfortable right now. I want to run away and hide from everyone.”
  • Development of thought - the ability to pick up an idea and continue it.
  • Communicating impressions - “What you say is very valuable to me.”
  • Remarks on the progress of the dialogue - “We seem to have reached a mutual understanding.”

Use in communication psychology

Types of communication in psychology - what they include, its functions

The method of active perception is a technique used in psychological practices, in psychotherapeutic consultations, during various trainings in order to better understand a person’s feelings and experiences.

The listening technique in communication psychology is used for:

  • directing the conversation in the right direction;
  • assisting in understanding, evaluating and remembering information;
  • encouraging the interlocutor to answer the necessary questions;
  • insurance against incorrect interpretation of information;
  • establishing psychological contact with the interlocutor and harmoniously building a line of conversation;
  • establishing conflict-free coexistence in society.

Example of a technique: what is most effective in active listening

A striking manifestation of this technique is the sales sphere. A good salesperson first listens carefully to the client and understands what exactly he needs. He then offers options to satisfy the buyer's need. By establishing contact, he establishes the true motives that prompted the visitor to come to the store, which may not have even been voiced.

This technique is also effective in communicating with children. To establish effective interaction with a child, it is important to understand his experiences and discover the problems that he has. Listening competently means encouraging your child to take specific actions, helping him resolve the issue that has arisen, and setting him up for trusting cooperation with adults.


The following techniques will help you develop this skill in yourself or others:

  • If this topic is to be explored with a group, divide the participants into pairs.
  • Tell them that for some time one of the two will play the role of the one who listens, and the other will play the role of the one who speaks.
  • For 5 minutes. the speaker will inform the opponent about his problem, focusing on the reasons for these difficulties. The listener applies the methods described above.
  • At the end of the established time limit, partners are given 1 minute to discuss what helped and what hindered speaking out or listening.
  • Having realized their mistakes, the interlocutors can correct them, since for the next 5 minutes the speaker will have to talk about the qualities that help him establish contacts with others. The listener continues to apply the techniques in practice, taking into account previously made mistakes.
  • After this, the one who listened retells everything that he managed to understand from his partner’s stories, and he, in turn, silently nods or shows disagreement. After receiving a negative reaction, the speaker must correct himself until he receives a positive response.
  • Then the opponents switch places and go through all the stages again.

After completing the exercise, you need to discuss it:

  • Which role did the participants find most difficult?
  • What mistakes did they make?
  • What should have been done differently?
  • What was this “game” for?
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