aktiv zuhören

Active listening

If I ask you now: “Are you actively listening?” you will surely say: “Yes, of course!” – Let’s look together to see if we understand the same thing. In my world, active listening is more than intensive eye contact, for example. Or that attention doesn’t have to be shared with notebooks and cell phones. Which should go without saying. So what is this “more”?

Body language is important – but not only

First of all, this “more” in active listening is the observation of the other person – the perception of how the other person feels in the conversation situation. Our heart is responsible for this perception; we don’t need much guidance or a course for this. Because we intuitively understand how the other person is feeling and can draw our own conclusions from this. The important thing is that we consciously decide to activate our emotional antennae and absorb the information.

Fully in or fully out

We have a choice when it comes to communication – we can be authentic, open and honest. So “in the thick of it instead of just being there”. This should be a matter of course in private communication. The situation is somewhat different in the professional environment. For example, politics and sensitivities play a significant role in large companies or larger project organizations. This makes communication more difficult and cumbersome. The good news is that if you know what to look out for, it will be much easier for you to deal with it.

An example: In addition to body language, the choice of words says a lot about how strongly your conversation partner identifies or can identify with the conversation situation and the content. Signal words for this are: I and you. Thus, the use of I in the content expresses an association: I am involved (associated) in this conversation and I contribute. If, on the other hand, your conversation partner frequently uses the word man, this means the exact opposite: I am only involved to a (small) extent and do not contribute. We then speak of “being dissociated”.

When communicating, a “dissociated” interlocutor follows a guideline or strategy to which he or she cannot fully commit and say “yes”. You can pick up on this signal and find out which guidelines or strategies these are by asking specific questions. This makes you more confident and creates trust. By the way: Neither you nor the person you are talking to has to change their mind! It’s all about achieving a better understanding.

Mine is better than yours

The quality of communication is largely determined by the basic attitude with which this communication takes place. In the neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) model, there are basic assumptions that are very well suited to improving communication. One of these basic assumptions is that your map is not the landscape .

In concrete terms, this means that just like you, the person you are talking to has his/her own unique view of the world. If we respect this, we can concentrate on the content and don’t need to dwell on animosities and profiling.

Take advantage of this! Make a conscious decision that you and the person you are talking to are equally valid and equally important. And make that clear. You can achieve this quite simply by using phrases such as “I think that …” or “In my world, it means that …” This makes your point of view clear – but at the same time leaves room for the other person to express their own opinion.

Tacit assumptions, imprecise language

You are probably familiar with this communication “phenomenon”: you and the person you are talking to are talking past each other. And at some point it clears up and a sentence like: “Oh, that’s what you meant, then I understand …” is uttered. – It’s nice when tacit assumptions dissolve in this way. It is stupid (and unfortunately much more common) that conflicts and bad feelings arise from this. There is also a simple but very effective procedure for this: Ask questions.

Imprecise language is directly recognizable by the fact that a word or sentence can be interpreted in different ways. Example: “I did it like this.” Anyone who says this has a clear idea of what he or she means. However, this may be completely different from yours. Solution: Ask! Use closed questions (W-questions): what exactly, how exactly, when exactly, …

In the case of tacit assumptions, you can proceed in a very similar way: In this case, ask recap questions: “Did I understand you correctly that you …” or “I understood that first … and then … Is that correct?”


We cannot not communicate. This quote comes from Paul Watzlawick and is one of the 5 axioms of communication. It is therefore in our own best interest to strive for good quality communication. In this way, we spare ourselves and others bad feelings and allow ourselves to achieve the best possible result. And that’s worth it, isn’t it?

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