active listening at work

Listen carefully: Why active listening is important in the workplace

Have you ever finished a conversation without remembering what the other person said? Do you find yourself interrupting others while they are talking?

Active listening is an important, undervalued skill.

Active listening refers to the ability to focus completely on the speaker, understand what they are saying, comprehend the information and respond appropriately.

By actively listening, you ensure you remember what was said later on without repetition.

Active listening is an essential skill if you want to progress in your career.

Indeed and Mind Tools highlight why active listening is essential and how to  improve your active listening skills.

Importance of active listening at work

There are several reasons why active listening is essential at work.


Helps you build connections

People will be more likely to talk to you if they know you are listening.

If you are an active listener, people will feel more comfortable sharing information with you.

Helps solve problems

By actively listening, you might detect challenges that others are facing or difficulties with projects you are working on. The sooner you pick these up, the more effectively you can address them.

Helps you build trust

If people know they can speak to you without interruption or judgement, they are more likely to confide in you.

Therefore, active listening can help you build relationships with colleagues and clients.

Increase knowledge and understanding

Actively listening helps you retain information and better understand new topics. It also helps you better remember lessons learned, so you can apply them in the future. 

Avoid missing important information

Active listeners are usually highly engaged and able to recall specific information.

Active listening is especially critical if you are receiving training or instructions.


Tips to improve:

There are several ways you can improve your active listening skills.


Pay attention

While the speaker is talking, you should look directly at them and watch their body language. You must not be distracted by what is happening around you.

Show you are listening

You can demonstrate that you are listening through your body language.

You must maintain an interested posture while the speaker is talking.  Try to maintain eye contact with the speaker throughout the conversation.

You should also occasionally nod or smile at the speaker to show you are listening and encourage them to continue.

Be still and avoid making distracted movements.

Provide feedback

Providing feedback to the speaker will illustrate you understand what they are saying. Paraphrase what the speaker just said by saying things like “What I’m hearing is…” Ask questions to clarify anything you’re not sure about.

Don’t interrupt

Interrupting will frustrate the speaker and reduce the clarity of their

You should allow the speaker to finish their point before asking a question and avoid interjecting with counterarguments.

Respond appropriately

Be open and honest in your response to the speaker

Ensure you express any opinions respectfully.

Above all else, you should treat the other person how you would want to be treated.

Ask open-ended questions

Once they have finished speaking, ask questions that show you’ve understood what the speaker has said. Ensure they are questions that cannot be answered with a single word.

Recall what the speaker has said previously

Think back to a previous conversation with the speaker and see if you remember what they said. Doing so shows the speaker you are currently listening and can recall previous information.


Active listening is not an easy skill to master. However, it is essential if you want to build your career.

active listening at work

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