active listening

Why Should You Listen?

Having good active listening skills is one of the most important soft skills that you can possess in business as companies love to hire employees who have good listening skills.  In fact, poor listening on behalf on an employee can end up causing organizations huge losses each year due to mistakes caused by employees who didn’t get the facts right.

There are many reasons to become a good listener as doing so allows you to become more efficient and productive, gives you the ability to demonstrate empathy and build better relationships with customers and co-workers.

Active Listening Meaning

The Active listening definition is being fully engaged while another person is talking to you. It is listening with the intent to understand the other person fully, rather than listening to respond (Wikipedia).

Barriers to Good Active Listening Skills

There are many distractions that can impact your ability to actively listen to your customer such as side conversations, background noise, up and coming meetings, your supervisor waiting to talk to you, a previous rude customer, social media, email notifications, data entry, etc.

  • Too many distractions so you are unable to focus
  • Day dreaming – Letting your mind wander
  • Being too compliant.  Thinking of what you will say or do next instead of listening
  • Interrupting, being too critical or judgmental.  Jumping to conclusions

These distractions can be easily overcome by following some guidelines on how to actively listen while on a customer call.

How to Actively Listen with Examples?

Actively listening and actually comprehending what the customer is saying is a soft skill that can be developed with proper training and practice, just like any other soft skill.  

Below are nine active listening techniques that you can practice on a daily basis to help improve your listening skills:

1. Focus

Stay focused on the purpose of call and listen for the facts or ideas being presented. Pay attention to the callers tone of voice and try to understand the message the caller is telling you from their point of view.

2. Take Notes

Take notes as you listen to capture key points that you can refer to later.

3. Eliminate Distractions

Try to prevent yourself from becoming distracted by colleagues and side conversations. Listen carefully and do not multi-task by checking emails, texts, Facebook or continuing to do data entry. Remember the caller deserves your undivided attention.

4. Demonstrate Empathy

Listen to the emotion in your caller’s voice. Adjust your own tone of voice accordingly by showing empathy and interest in what the caller is saying.

5. Don’t Interrupt

You listen more effectively when you’re not talking, so refrain from interrupting your caller. Listen objectively and let them finish what they are saying as interruptions may break their train of thought.

6. Ask Questions

When in doubt as to what your caller is saying, ask patient, relevant questions to gain more information on points you need to clarify. This shows the customer that you are interested in what they are saying and that you are taking responsibility for the call.

7. Stay Positive

If you encounter an assertive, angry, upset customer, don’t allow your attitude to slip and become negative. Take a moment to reflect on how this impacts your attitude and then make a choice to retain a positive attitude as this will make the rest of your day much happier.

8. Confirm and Summarize

Let the customer know you understand what they are saying by summarizing the conversation. Use statements such as “I understand”, “I agree”, “I see”, “You’re right”. These are all great ways to reflect back and summarize.

Refer back on your notes by asking questions such as “It’s my understanding that we will be installing on…” or “May I take a moment to confirm what you’ve said?”. If your customer is upset, emphasize with them by saying statements such as “I understand how you are feeling right now. I will get this resolved as soon as possible.”

9. Ask the Customer to Repeat Some Information

While it’s not good to ask callers to constantly repeat information, if you are having difficulty listening, you could say, “I’m sorry I missed what you just said. Could you please repeat that for me?

Active Listening Summary

Listening is one of the most important soft skills you can have as a Customer Service Representative. There are several barriers to good listening can that can be overcome such as too many distractions, day dreaming, being too compliant and interrupting.  The good news is that Active Listening skills can be learned and if you follow some of the advice here, you’ll be well on your way to gaining valuable listening skills.

To improve your office skills and learn some valuable soft skills, take the Soft Skills Training for Administrative Professionals course on

This course is taught in the Office Skills Collaborative Online Classroom. The Office Skills Collaborative Online Classroom is a fun and interactive way to learn Soft Skills. Get the benefit of learning online while being in a classroom environment with an instructor, other students, discussion forums, chat rooms, lectures, presentations and video demonstrations.

Office Skills Author

Author Bio: Dawn Bieser is the Founder, Instructor and Virtual Office Professional with Dawn has been teaching office skills for over two decades, both in the classroom and on her website, She enjoys using her skills in education and technology to help individuals improve their effectiveness and efficiency and gain new skills. You can find more about her on her About page


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