How might someone start practising active listening?

I asked the following question during @shwetaneelsharma’s masterclass webinar: How To Build a Thriving QA/Testing Team With People-First Leadership.

How might someone start practising active listening?

I’m curious about how you get started if you’ve not tried active listening before. I can’t remember how I got started, maybe I “just tried it” yet that isn’t a very helpful answer. Feels like we should gather concrete examples and resources on this topic.

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Hmm I consider myself a decent active listener.

Thinking back, I’d say this is something that I develop since my school days where in classes, I listen to the teachers/professors.

I have worked with people who are not good at listening, and it was not a good experience for everyone. That said, here are a few things they have tried to improve

  • Take notes
  • Ask questions
  • Recap the discussion and actions needed.

Not going to lie but I think self introspective is important as well. If someone don’t think they are bad at listening, they won’t improve. (This one probably doesn’t have much to do with active listening).

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Interesting question that covers a big topic which I also want to improve :slight_smile:
here’s some ideas :

  • Avoid opening emails or phone while talking to someone
  • During a meeting you can take some physical notes, you can even draw an axis with participant name and draw a symbol when some one ask question or when someone give an answer. As a coach this will provide you insights if there is someone afraid to speak or if there is someone who always want to take the priority and not allowing others to speak.
  • You can also ask questions and use the power of silence how people will answer you
  • Clarify things that wasn’t clear and summarize then ask if this is what the other person means …

@testerfromleic spoke about traps to avoid in active listening in his ATD keynote 2021. It was amazing, I still refer to my notes from his talk !
Agile Testing Days Journey 2021 (Part2) – Emna Ayadi

To me the biggest hurdles to overcome is:

  • Do not think about what you are going to say. Listen to what they are saying.
  • Do not be afraid of silence. You might fear that you will have nothing to say if you do not prepare it.

To practice I suggest to pair up with another person that know that you are practising. They tell you something. And then you can discuss after so you can learn. Also do it in a private setting without distractions. And as for all practise, focus on individual parts in different sessions.

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