“Active listening” and “reflecting” are terms that are commonly used in the helping professions- counselling and therapy. Counsellors recognize that communicators are frequently loaded with multiple meanings, and that the counsellor must try to “tease out” these several meanings without making the communicator angry or defensive. One technique for gaining more information is to ask questions, another method of gaining more information is by listening. There are 3 major forms of listening:

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  • Passive Listening: is merely the reception of the message, providing no feedback to the sender about the accuracy or completeness of reception. Sometimes it is enough in itself to keep a communicator sending information.
  • Acknowledgment : is the second form of listening, slightly more active than complete passivity. When acknowledging, the receiver occasionally nods his head, maintains eye contact, or interjects responses like “I see”, “interesting”, “sure”…etc. These responses are sufficient to keep the communicator sending messages, but the sender often misinterprets the acknowledgments as the receiver’s agreeing with the position, rather than simply receiving the message.
  • Active listening: is the third form of listening. When the receiver is actively listening, he restates, or paraphrases, the sender’s message in his own language. Such as;

 

Sender: Please, don’t ask me about that now.

Receiver: Sounds like you’re awfully busy right now.

 

Sender: I thought the meeting today accomplished nothing.

Receiver: We were very disappointed with our session.

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