Top Benefits of Active Listening

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Milan Kordestani

Entrepreneur, writer, and founder of 3 purpose-driven companies oriented toward giving individuals control over their own discourse and creation. Milan works to produce socially positive externalities through a mindset of social architecture.

Hi! I'm Milan, an LA based founder and writer, architecting impact-first businesses.

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Your ears were designed to hear. But hearing and actively listening are two entirely different activities. Actively listening requires a desire to want to understand what someone else says. It is the most important component of good communication, which is the foundation for all successful relationships.

From the boardroom to the bedroom, from Mainstreet to Wall Street, active listening is ultimately what helps to build trust, rapport, and understanding with other human beings.  Let’s discover the benefits of being a good listener in detail.

What is Active Listening?

Active listening is a key communication skill that requires you to fully engage and focus on what the speaker is trying to convey. Usually, people do not retain the information they hear during a conversation or presentation. In fact, according to testing from Harvard Business Review, the average listener only remembers 25% of a talk or lecture just two months later!

Active listening invites you to pay more attention and engage fully. More importantly, it requires you to WANT to understand the message while empathizing with the messenger.

As with any skill, active listening takes time and practice to develop. But putting in the time and effort makes sense when you understand the benefits of active listening.

What are the Benefits of Active Listening Exactly?

Living in the modern world means being distracted most of the time. If it isn’t our phones drawing our attention, it’s some other digital device or our thoughts swimming around our heads. Now, more than ever, we should commit to developing the skill of active listening.

Here are 7 essential benefits of effective listening and why you should want to get better at it:

Increased Engagement

Active listening is necessary for a successful conversation regardless of the situation. Whether at home, work or in a social setting, active listening keeps you engaged with your conversation partner and shows them you value what they say.

Builds Trust

Without trust in a relationship, you have nothing. But how can people trust one another when they don’t have a clue what the other person is saying?

In “You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why it Matters,” Author Kate Murphy suggests that active listening creates psychological safety within a conversation. This, she offers, is the key to building trust.

“Listening is not about teaching, shaping, critiquing, appraising, or showing how it should be done. Listening is about the experience of being experienced. It’s when someone takes an interest in who you are and what you are doing.”

Resolving Conflicts

Misunderstandings are a result of passive listening; of people not fully committed to intently listening and understanding someone’s message and point of view. Conflicts erupt when two people cannot see a situation from the other’s perspective.

Active listening encourages us to pause and take a moment to consider how someone else thinks and feels about a situation. By doing this, we can gain insights, clarity, and understanding. This is ultimately how conflicts are resolved. Active listening also fosters a culture of respect in the home and the workplace.

Active Listening = Active Learning

The act of active listening means you are intent on understanding a person’s entire message. This means you naturally absorb more information about a specific topic or idea. Active listening is invaluable when trying to instruct others. Did you receive the entire message and data set before attempting to pass it on to others? Leaders should be an example to their teams. Practice active listening to yourself and you can teach your employees about the benefits of active listening.

Identify Problems Ahead of Time

When you actively listen to someone, you seek clarification to ensure you are understanding the message correctly. This provides an opportunity to recognize whether a problem currently exists or if one could surface down the road. In this sense, active listening is almost like having a crystal ball. By being fully engaged in a conversation, you have a deeper understanding and more information at your fingertips. You can take this information and evaluate it from different aspects to discover a potentially underlying problem and tackle it at its very foundation. Passive listening only leads to slapping bandaids on problems and never finding any real solutions.

Empowers Leaders

Leaders who practice active listening gain a deeper understanding of the people they lead, as well as fresh ideas and perspectives. This new information can build confidence and empower leaders, which in turn facilitates better communication.

Active listening can also have a profound impact on your ability to negotiate because it gives you the chance to analyze what the other person has said and gauge how to respond to get the best deal. Too often, when no one's listening, negotiations follow an almost formulaic and obvious pattern. Neither party at the table has a leg up or an advantage. But by asking the right questions and listening intently to the answers, you can gain information that you can use to your advantage.

Employee Retention and Increased Productivity

It stands to reason that employees who don’t feel heard don’t feel valued. And when employees don’t feel valued, they tend to not give it their all - AKA - they tend to phone it in. Eventually, these employees will look for greener pastures elsewhere, HR will begin to look for new talent, and the cycle will repeat itself.

A leader who actively listens to his employees gains their trust and respect and makes them feel valued. This makes employees very happy and happy employees tend to stick around and want to come into work and give it their all.

Active listening also helps teams work more cohesively as a group. When your organization has fostered a culture of active listening, team members feel comfortable speaking up, sharing ideas, and voicing their concerns and opinions. This feeling of inclusivity can help team members feel more secure, focused, and energized as well as less prone to distraction. Hence, active listening leads to more productivity all around!

How to Unleash the Benefits of Active Listening?

Becoming proficient in active listening will take time but as you can see there are benefits to being a good listener. The following tips will help you develop the skill of active listening:

  • Be Mindful

Hearing engages your ears. Active listening engages your mind. You must practice being more mindful and in the moment. When others are speaking, you must do your best to pay full attention. In the beginning, you will find your mind wants to wander. That’s okay, just gently bring your focus and attention back to the present and to the speaker.

  • Ask Questions

By asking open-ended questions (those are the ones that cannot be answered with a simple yes or no) you invite the speaker to elaborate on their message. You also benefit by gaining an even deeper understanding of the speaker’s thoughts, feelings, and point of view.

  • Maintain Eye Contact

It is proper and respectful to maintain eye contact with the speaker. This shows them you are truly listening and value what they have to say. Do not look around the room or down at your phone. Look at the speaker and fully engage.

  • Do NOT Interrupt

Never start speaking before the other person has finished as it shows your conversation partner you think your ideas and opinions have more value than theirs. Listen fully and when the speaker has finished, then you can ask a question, offer an opinion or counter an argument.

  • Offer Verbal and Non-Verbal Cues

Practice showing the speaker you are engaged using verbal and non-verbal cues. Verbal cues can include saying something like, “I understand” or “That makes sense.” Non-verbal cues include maintaining the eye contact we discussed, nodding, and smiling.


Being an effective communicator relies heavily on engaging fully with other people and understanding what they have to say. Active listening builds trust and strong relationships. It can give you leverage come negotiating time, empower you as a leader, and help employees feel heard and valued. It may not be easy to become skilled at active listening, but the effort will be well worth it to obtain the many benefits of active listening.