Active listening is a set of techniques designed to help you hear and understand what someone else is saying and to help the speaker express him/herself clearly. Active listening focuses on both facts and feelings, reduces tension and defensiveness, and allows conflicts to be resolved more effectively.
Skill Definition Purpose


To show verbal or nonverbal signs of interest.

To encourage the person to continue talking.

Question To ask the speaker questions.

To gather more information.  

To check out the accuracy of what you have heard.

Restate To repeat in your own words the main facts and issues.

To show you have heard and understood.  

To check the meaning and interpretation of what you have heard.

Reflect To feed back the emotional part of the message.

To show you understand the feelings behind what is being expressed.  

To help the person evaluate and understand his/her own feelings.


To make a brief but complete statement that captures the essence of the speaker's perspective.

To pull together the important issues and feelings.

Validate To acknowledge a person's worth, effort and feelings.

To recognize the value of the person's perspective and feelings.

To show appreciation for the speaker's efforts at communication.


Adapted from materials developed by the Community Boards Program, San Francisco, California.