1. Health
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

What is Active Listening?


Updated July 07, 2012

Question: What is Active Listening?

Active Listening is the process of listening attentively while someone else speaks, paraphrasing and reflecting back what is said, and witholding judgement and advice. Below is an example of a conversation in which active listening is taking place.

Lisa: I had a fight with my sister and we haven't spoken since then.

Jodie: You had a fight and you guys aren't talking.

Lisa: Yes. We were arguing because I wanted her to come over to our place for the holidays but she said it was too difficult with the kids in tow. I was really mad at the time, but now I feel kind of bad.

Jodie: You were arguing about where to spend the holidays and it made you mad then, but now you feel a little bad about it.

Lisa: Yes, she just makes me so angry, assuming that because I don't have children I can't possibly understand what it is like. I knew it would be hard for her, but I thought that she would want to spend the holidays at our place anyway. We just couldn't agree at all.

Jodie: So you were angry because she assumes that you can't understand what it is like to have kids, and also because she didn't want to make the effort to come.

Lisa: Totally. Maybe I should just tell her again that I understand it is hard, but that I really hope she can come. Or maybe they could just come for the day instead of staying overnight. I just don't want to argue with her anymore.

Jodie: You think you could talk to her and tell her you understand it is hard, but that maybe she could just come for the day.

Lisa: Yes, that's what I think I will do.

As you can see, actively listening makes the speaker feel heard and encourages open conversation.


Pennsylvania State University. Active Listening. Accessed May 10, 2010.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.