Active and mindful listening 

We’re all guilty of it – not really paying attention when someone is talking to us. It could be that our minds are so full of what we should have done or what we should be doing that we only half listen to the person talking to us at this moment. Or, we’re so eager to jump in with our own little story as soon as our friend pauses for breath that we don’t actually fully listen to them.

Listening, really listening, to someone is very difficult but it is so rewarding for both parties! To actually listen to someone, giving them your full attention, is a fabulous gift and it’s a really simple way to make someone feel like they matter.

Well, how about learning some lovely little techniques for allowing that space to actually listen – forget multi-tasking, we’re giving the gift of listening!

mindful listening picture
active listening tips myhappysoul

Listening isn’t as easy as it sounds (no pun intended!) Although we hear
things all the time eg background noise of the radio or tv, the general buzz of a conversation in the office or coffee shop, this doesn’t require any effort on our part – indeed, it’s incredibly passive. But really listening to someone
requires a bit of effort to really focus and concentrate on what someone is
saying – so we need to take a bit of action!

Our active listening can involve any or all of the following:

  • leaning forward, maintaining eye contact, nodding,
  • not interrupting the other person – or waiting for them to pause so we
    can speak.
  • asking some questions to show we’re interested in what they have to
  • checking or clarifying we have understood them.

The SHUSH aid to active listening

The Samaritans* have a wonderful acronym to aid active listening….SHUSH and although it’s used as a training technique, it is equally as powerful in everyday interactions!

  • Show you care … by focussing purely on the other person. Make eye contact, put away your phone
  • Have patience …if the speaker has paused in their talking, they may not have finished talking – don’t leap in with your bit! Give them time to articulate what they’re feeling or trying to say. Ask questions to show you’re interested and check with them anything you’re not sure of
  • Use open questions as these don’t impose a point of view and will help you not to jump in with your own ideas – ask them to tell you more!
  • Say it back – repeating something back to somebody is a really good way to reassure them that they have your undivided attention. And you can check to see that you’re hearing what they want you to hear, not putting your own interpretation onto the conversation
  • Have courage – don’t feel you have to fill a silence. This is something most of us find really difficult – as humans we like to fill a gap! Take a breath and hang tight for a moment!
Shush technique
speak less listen more myhappysoul

There’s a few variations of the HEAR technique but they all boil down to the same ideas!

  • HALT – pre conversation, stop whatever it is you’re doing eg. knitting, watching Netflix, cooking, scrolling through Instagram, and set the intention that you’re going to give this your full attention
  • Exhale – Once you’ve decided to give this your full attention enjoy a deep breath and exhale nice and slowly. Get your mind in listening mode and maybe position your body to face your talking partner
  • ASK- When the other person is talking, ask yourself if you really know what they mean and if you don’t, ask for clarification. Instead of making assumptions, bring openness and curiosity to the interaction.
  • REFLECT — Reflect back to them what you heard. This tells them that you were really listening.
all ears

You’ve now got a little listening toolkit to delve into whenever you feel the need!

If, however, you find yourself doing any of these things whilst ‘listening’…

looking at your watch

checking your phone

glancing at the television

yawning (not good haha!)


…then you might need to go back to taking a breath and refocussing!

Or come and say hello to our fabulous ladies in our little Happy Soul bookclub – if you love an inspiring, motivational and potentially life-changing book or just lovely mindfulness stuff !