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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 receiver (Eunson 2008: 9). Active listening is a listening skill that ‘focuses on ... clues, ie, utterances and/or behaviours that are not explicit but may have special meaning and suggest unshared ideas, concerns, and expectations’ (Lang et al 2000: 222).

Active listening is as much a visual activity as it is an auditory activity. Non-verbal body language such as eye contact and body positioning allows the listener to fully understand the point that the speaker is communicating while, for the listener, displaying positive messages through these channels lets the speaker know that there is interest and full attention is being given to what is being said. Simon Armson illustrated this point when he said ‘If you listen to everything that you hear, not just the words, but what’s going on around them, you get a much richer picture’ (cited in Theobald & Cooper 2004: 103). Non-verbal signals such as eye contact, mirroring the speaker’s mannerisms, facing the speaker with an open body posture and n...


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...an, DT 2009, The basics of communication: a relational perspective, Sage Publications, Canada.
Eunson, B 2008, Communicating in the 21st century, 2nd edn, Wiley, Milton.
Rogers, CR & Farson, RE 1987, ‘Active listening’, Global Effectiveness Training, viewed 25 March 2011, < http://www.go-get.org/pdf/Rogers_Farson.pdf>.
Theobald, T & Cooper, CL 2004, Shut up and listen!: the truth about how to communicate at work, Kogan Page, London ; Sterling, VA.
West, R & Turner, L 2009, Understanding interpersonal communication: making choices in changing times, 2nd edn, Wadsworth Cengage Learning, Boston.
Lang, F, Floyd, MR & Beine, KL 2000, ‘Clues to patients’ explanations and concerns about their illnesses: a call for active listening’, Archives of Family Medicine, vol. 9, March 2000, pp. 222 – 227, viewed 27 March 2011, .


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