By the end of this microlearning, learners will be able to:

  • State the definition of active listening.
  • Identify the best practices in active listening.
  • Create a detailed plan for improving their active listening skills.

Self Assessment

Complete this self-assessment by clicking on the radio buttons, then find your total score at the bottom of the chart. After completing the self-assessment, identify the active listening skills that are your greatest strengths, and those that need improvement.


Active Listening. How to be a great listener.


What is active listening and why is it important?

1. Active listening means that you are fully listening to another person, and not just hearing what you think they’re saying or what you want to hear.
2. According to Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience we only remember 25-50% of what we hear. Most of us do not listen well because of poor listening habits.
3. Active listening is important to avoid conflict and misunderstandings, improve productivity, and strengthen one’s ability to persuade.

Active listening “dos”

  1. Focus on what the person is saying rather than what’s going on around you or thinking how you will respond.
  2. Reflect back on what the person has said by summarizing or restating in your own words (such as, “What I’m hearing is…” or “It sounds like you’re saying…”).
  3. Use encouragers to show them that you’re listening and that they can keep talking. Encouragers include nodding your head, using eye contact, and saying “mmm-hmm.” You don’t need to convey a message that you agree with everything the person says; rather, show that you are listening and encouraging them to continue speaking.
  4. Try to label their emotions. For instance, you can say “That sounds terrifying” or “You must have been thrilled.”
  5. Validate their experience. For instance, you can say “Thank you for talking about such a difficult experience.” Again, this doesn’t always mean that you fully share their opinion, but rather that you recognize what they are experiencing and trying to understand.
  6. Respond openly, honestly, and with empathy.

Active listening “don’ts”

  1. Active listening does not mean you have to fully agree with everything the person is saying; it just means that you try to see their point-of-view or understand their experience.
  2. Don’t interrupt.
  3. Asking questions such as “why” – this tends to put others on the defensive.
  4. Giving unsolicited advice.
  5. Reassuring or patronizing the other person, by making statements such as “You poor thing” or “Don’t worry, everything will be fine.”

Plan for Application

Review your self-assessment. Then, complete this guide to create a plan for applying active listening skills.

Additional Resources

Additional resources on active listening can be found in this learning guide.