Active listening

Active Listening is a crucial communication skill that involves fully engaging with the speaker, understanding their message, and responding thoughtfully.  

All volunteers should actively listen and respect other people’s views and sensitivities without judgement. Flexibility, empathy and a sensitive appreciation of other peoples’ points of view should be taken into account.  

This means you need to carefully pay attention to what they tell you, or don’t tell you, so you can understand their point of view and can offer some encouraging words.  

Top tips for active listening

1. Pay attention:

Focus on the speaker without distractions in a quiet environment. Maintain eye contact (if applicable) and show genuine interest. Put away anything that might distract you and turn off anything making background noise if you can.  

2. Avoid interrupting:

Let the speaker finish their thoughts before responding. We might think we know what someone is about to say, which means we don’t truly listen to what is being said. Try and put aside your biases when they are sharing. 

3. Show empathy:

Understand their emotions and perspective. Acknowledge their feelings.  

Read our guide on empathy for more detail 

4. Ask clarifying questions:

Seek clarification to ensure you grasp their message accurately. You can ask questions such as:  

“Can you explain in more detail what you mean by that?”

“How does that impact you?” 

“Can you give me an example of that?”

5. Paraphrase:

Summarise what you’ve heard to demonstrate and check your understanding. This gives them the opportunity to correct you if you have misunderstood.  

6. Provide feedback:

Offer thoughtful responses based on what they have said that show you’ve actively listened. 

Remember, active listening builds trust and strengthens relationships, ensuring that the person feels heard.