Active Listening

Contributor: Shannon Malkovsky. Lesson ID: 10325

Do friends come to you for advice? Do you pay more attention to your phone than to people talking to you? Active listening is a major part of building trust. Learn and practice it with this lesson!


Interpersonal Skills

Life Skills
learning style
personality style
Lion, Otter
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Imagine yourself five years from now. You have many friends and most of your friends come to you to talk when they are upset or for advice.

  • Why do they choose to go to you?

You have great listening skills! You didn't always have great listening skills, and your friends didn't always go to you for advice.

  • Where did you learn these listening skills?

You learned these skills from this lesson!

"Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply" (Stephen R. Covey).

To be effective parents, workers, citizens, and students, we must be effective communicators.

We are going to use our listening skills to help us understand the message that other people are sending to us. Communication is the process of sharing ideas, feelings, and thoughts with other people, and having those ideas, feelings, and thoughts understood.

Today we will look more in-depth at a communication skill and identify strategies to help us improve our ability to communicate effectively.

What would happen to your relationships if you were unable to communicate?

You can see that being unable to communicate can cause many problems. Yet, even with the ability to communicate, misunderstandings occur, feelings are hurt, and things go wrong, all because people did not communicate effectively.

Today we will learn that, when we communicate, there is a constant flow of information, and by using communication strategies, we can obtain the information we need, solve problems, and be confident in our ability to communicate with others.

Listening is one of the most-used, and one of the most neglected, communication skills.

How many of you ever had a course in how to listen? Listening is not as easy as it sounds! When you are listening actively, you are focusing on what the other person is saying in order to understand what he or she means. This requires energy and effort.

Active Listening

Please watch the following video on How to Become An Active Listener and read through the paper entitled Active Listening Handout in Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar to learn more about active listening. Please take notes as you are watching the video:


Hearing, Comprehending, and Remembering


Hearing is not the same as listening. Have you ever heard your friend tell you something but you misunderstood his message? To really hear the message takes energy. It means paying attention physically, asking open-ended questions, maintaining eye contact, and focusing on what the speaker is saying.


It means being able to interpret what the speaker is saying. It also means being aware when you are not understanding the message, and adjusting your listening strategies so you can comprehend the message. Some ways you might do this are to ask the person questions, paraphrase what the person said, try to understand the other person’s point of view, and watch the person’s body language.


Once you have heard the message, you will need to remember it.

Tips for Effective Listening

Before Listening

  • Take responsibility for comprehension. Your teacher can make sure you hear, but only you can be sure you understand.
  • Get ready to listen; focus your attention on the speaker.

During Listening

  • Listen for the main ideas.
  • Listen to understand rather than to argue or find mistakes.
  • Hear the person out before you respond. You are listening to gain information, not necessarily to agree with it.
  • Don’t be critical. Don’t tune out on the information because you don’t see the value in it.
  • Keep an open mind.

Elephango's Philosophy

We help prepare learners for a future that cannot yet be defined. They must be ready for change, willing to learn and able to think critically. Elephango is designed to create lifelong learners who are ready for that rapidly changing future.