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Active Listening in Communication

Active listening promotes understanding. In a mentoring relationship, it’s essential that the mentor understand as much as possible about the protege. Active listening involves:

  • giving the protege your full attention,
  • being patient, and
  • seeking understanding.

Giving the protege your full attention

A mentor with active listening skills gives a protege her full attention. While meeting with her protege, she doesn’t check her watch, take phone calls, or allow interruptions. She demonstrates interest and uses nods and receptive body language — such as leaning forward — to encourage her protege to continue speaking.

A protege whose mentor scans his e-mail and looks over paperwork while meeting with her will not feel that she has his full attention. She will take her concerns elsewhere. Mentors who put their work aside and ensure no interruptions while meeting with their proteges will be perceived as attentive, empathetic listeners.

Being patient

It takes a lot of patience to sit quietly without responding or reacting while someone is talking to you. Often, listeners are busy formulating responses or making mental notes about points they want to rebut.

Sometimes they’ve already formed an opinion about what the speaker is saying before he’s even had a chance to make all of his points. Patient listening requires that you