How to Actively Listen to Your Friend


What is Active Listening?

Active listening is listening to your friend attentively and showing that you are listening. Active listening is an important component of communication since it can make your friend feel that you truly care about what they have to say and can understand their feelings. Listen to what your friend has to say, don't disrupt them—being heard and understood can be quite helpful.

How do I “Actively Listen”?

  • Seek to understand the your friends situation, meaning, and emotions
  • Use minimal encouragers such as, “Uh, huh”, “I see” and “I understand”
  • Use open-ended questions and statements such as, “Can you tell me what you mean...” or “Explain more about....”—this gives them the opportunity to let them be heard.
  • Reflect on their feelings and paraphrase—be their mirror, let them know that you are truly listening to what they are saying.
  • Highlight the feeling words for example:
    “So, what I heard you say is that you are frustrated because...”
    “Wow, it sounds like you are really overwhelmed with school”
  • Clarify as needed, Check out/clarify key words
  • “So, how are you experiencing it?”
  • "What do you mean when you say....”
  • “What makes you believe that?”
  • Provide feedback as needed while remaining neutral and non-judgmental.
  • Validate concerns and feelings—this helps to assure their feelings are important, real and valid.

What are some barriers to Active Listening?

  • Too many Distractions
  • Letting your mind wander
  • Pre-judging the speaker
  • Rushing to solve the problem
  • Signs of needing to leave
  • Not keeping confidentiality—not retaining a sense of trust that information will be kept private
  • “Waiting for my turn to talk”—waiting for your friend to finish sharing so you can bring up a unrelated topic.

How Does Body Language affect Active Listening?

Try to be aware of your non-verbal communication and body language. Sometimes we forget that our body language speaks just like our words do. Make sure that your non-verbal’s are communicating that you are listening.

Try NOT to:

  • Have wandering eyes
  • Tap your feet
  • Have fidgeting hands
  • Be on your phone or texting

Try to:

  • Sit directly across
  • Open posture
  • Eye contact
  • Relaxed posture
  • Lean toward speaker when necessary



Information from Andrea Iglesias, Psy.D. , Basic Helping Skills ppt.