Powerful Listening

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When you are communicating, however, you have to listen much more than you speak. Hearing and listening are obviously not the same thing, and it’s worth learning to listen properly. If you look in the mirror, you see your own face reflected – you see yourself but the mirror image is not identical to you. Similarly, when you engage in active listening, you try to repeat what you heard in your own words, to show the speaker what you understood and whether it is correct.

At its heart, active listening also helps you understand the other person’s perspective fully and completely – which doesn’t necessarily mean taking on the other person’s perspective yourself. If you want to communicate to the other person that you’ve really listened and concentrated on the discussion, there are a few rules for behavior:


  • “This is what I heard you say.”

From time to time you can repeat what you heard in your own words.

Asking clarification questions

  • “What do you mean by that?"
  • "What does this word/issue/phrase mean to you…?”

You ask whether you summarized correctly and discuss in more detail anything that might be unclear. You explain any vague and ambiguous terms.

Confirmation signals

  • Nodding your head, saying “yeah” or “yes” can serve as good verbal confirmations to show that you’ve really listened.
  • You can communicate this with facial expressions as well.

Nils-Eyk Zimmermann

Nils-Eyk Zimmermann

Editor of Competendo. Coordinator of the project DIGIT-AL Digital Transformation in Adult Learning for Active Citizenship. Network Secretary of the DARE network. Topics: active citizenship, civil society, digital transformation, non-formal and lifelong learning, capacity building. Blogs here: Blog: Civil Resilience. Email: office@dare-network.eu