How Good Are Your Active Listening Skills?

What is active listening?

  • “Active listening is a structured form of listening and responding that focuses the attention on the speaker” (Huffman, 2009, p. 492).

How detrimental can it be to not listen actively?

  • Try listening to someone or something with background noise, such as music, a television show, or something equally distracting. Have them tell you some facts or points and see how much you actually retain.

How can you improve your active listening skills?

  1. Practice, Practice, Practice!
  2. Without distractions, have a conversation with someone while focusing on what they are saying to you.
  3. Respond to them by verbalizing as much of the information they have shared as you can.
  4. Then, have that person evaluate how accurately you heard what they told you.

What is the end-goal of active listening?

  • You are no longer focusing on your agenda.
  • You are now focusing on the patient’s concerns/ideas/perspective.
  • This will help you determine what topics require further exploration.
  • The patient will feel heard and understood, rather than feeling like they are being told what to do.



Huffman, M. H. (2009). Health Coaching: A Fresh, New Approach to Improve Quality Outcomes and Compliance for Patients with Chronic Conditions. Home Healthcare Nurse, 27 (8), 490 – 497.

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