Does active listening really matter? Yes, it does! It is your key to success no matter what industry you're in. Active listening:
Body language is an understated part of communication. If your body language doesn't reflect your intentions, thought process, etc., your co-workers could misunderstand the underlying meaning of your discussion. To show that you're actively listening, you should maintain eye contact, show signs that you're listening, and actively engage with your co-worker.
It's important to acknowledge that everyone's brain works differently and take active steps to bridge that gap. After someone finishes discussing an idea, goal, or task with you, clarify that you are on the same page by paraphrasing everything that was said. This allows you to make sure you fully understand them and gives your co-worker the chance to make corrections if there was a misunderstanding
Interruptions are a telltale sign of a passive listener, as they often get caught up in their heads and aren't fully aware of the conversation going on around them. They get too busy thinking about what they're going to say next and often jump the gun resulting in interruptions. Not only are interruptions rude, but they also inhibit productivity.
Instead of writing everything word-for-word, jot down keywords and phrases while focusing most of your attention on listening to the underlying meaning of what is being said. Take notes on the main points being discussed. You can even use those notes to help you paraphrase!
Once your employee or co-worker has finished speaking, don't be afraid to allow some silence so you can absorb the information they just gave you. After you've had a moment to fully comprehend the information, you will be able to better respond to any questions or statements.
If you change the subject too quickly, you likely haven't had the opportunity to complete any of the above recommendations. If silence is golden then you shouldn't be afraid of it! Make sure you have a good understanding of the previous subject before you move on to the next.
If you don't understand something, don't brush it off and try to understand it later. Maybe jot down a quick note about what you didn't understand and then allow the speaker to finish talking. After he/she is finished talking, ask any questions you may have and make sure you fully understand everything that was said. There is something to be said for knowing what you don't know and taking action.
Don't forget, it's never too late to become a better listener!