By embracing effective listening techniques and using them to open up communication within your sessions, you will excel as a facilitator. Learn how to employ the art of effective listening in your sessions.

The greatest asset a facilitator can possess is the ability to listen well and help the parties involved in his or her facilitation sessions. It is difficult to learn how to listen actively and effectively, but once you have mastered this skill, you will be able to communicate more accurately and efficiently with your participants.

The Three Levels of Listening

There are three basic levels of listening: listening to one’s self, listening for content, and listening for depth. Within our personal lives, we tend to use each of these kinds of listening to help ourselves navigate our world and the relationships within it. However, we do not always use all of these simultaneously, and effectively using each listening method becomes more difficult as situations become more stressful.

Effective Listening Starts as Silence

To hone your effective listening skills, you need to focus on bringing yourself into the moment: do not think about what you are planning on saying or doing in the near future; just listen and be present. Become comfortable with the silences you require to think about and respond to the information you’ve been given. Some facilitators have discovered that a meditation regimen helps them to focus and embrace these beginning skills.

Active Listening

Once you have grasped the more passive aspect of listening, begin incorporating aspects of active listening. Encourage the speaker to keep talking by using basic language cues to let them know you are listening. You will do this naturally by saying things like “I see” or “uh-huh” or even nodding as they speak. From there, you can communicate your understanding of what they have said by restating their points—which may help the speaker to clarify their message if there is confusion. Allow the person to understand that you have heard both the facts and their feelings about these facts.