Active listening means listening intently and responding to what the other person is saying. Here are some tips to improve your listening skills.
1. Don't interrupt
Try not to interrupt the other person mid-flow - even if you strongly agree or disagree with what they're saying. Let them finish, and then respond.
2. Pay attention!
Concentrate on what they're saying - it might change what you want to say next.
3. Let them know you're listening
It doesn't take much - just a nod or an "uhuh" will let them know you're still paying attention to them.
4. Eye Contact
Try to maintain regular eye contact while they're speaking but don't stare continuously (it might seem spooky to them - especially if they're talking about something difficult)
5. Make sure you've understood them
Don't assume you've really understood what's been said. A good way to do this is to repeat what they've just said in your own words - "So, what you're saying is . . ." Be careful only to repeat what you think they've said and not to jump to conclusions!
6. Be cool
Take a breath and try to imagine what the other person might be thinking and feeling before you respond. How would you feel in their position?
Remember, good communication is key for successful relationships and friendships.