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 The importance of the listener in communication cannot be overemphasized. As you can see from a model of communication, it is the listener's responsibility to receive the message, decode the message which involves interpreting the symbols and signs the sender uses, plus give feedback to the sender. In short, this is a lot of work, requiring the listener to be active and concentrating.  

Basic Model of Active Listening



  • not hearing
  • not seeing



  • move closer to speaker
  • keep gaze on speaker's face


  • not paying attention (psuedo-listening)
  • focusing on irrelevancies
  • concentrate (do not think your own thoughts or prepare what you will say next)
  • listen for main points & summarize as you go


  • not understanding the code - (symbols & signs the speaker uses)
  • ambiguous messages (e.g. verbal and nonverbal messages do not match)
  • not understanding the meaning
  • ask speaker for clarification  
  • pay attention to context
  • willingly suspend your disbelief (do not assume you know what the speaker his going to say or think about your own reactions until after the speaker is finished


  • not responding
  • ambiguous responses
  • inappropriate or "leading" responses
  • remember that a good listener acknowledges the speaker's message before moving on to his or her own
  • "uh huh" doesn't cut it
  • try paraphrase plus 




Try the 5 Power Concepts of Listening

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Copyright Alisa M. Shubb, 1999


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