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Technically, “active listening” is repeating what the person has said to you using your own words. IF you practice it (which no one really can do all the time because it is seriously more stupid than the person repeating themselves) it actually works really well. I learned it in customer service positions, and I use it on my husband when I am being well-behaved or when he thinks I am not listening. Or sometimes I do it just so that later I will remember that I heard it… but I probably won’t remember anyway, because it doesn’t work for anything but short-term.
It’s why the waitress repeats your order, or a phone rep repeats your problem, “I understand that your phone is blinking out when you try to use it, can you tell me when this happens?”
Doing that says, “I understand you said this… but what else can you tell me.” It is active and engaging. It took me years to understand why that was important anywhere but work. Now I don’t work with the public so I have backslid a bunch, but I do try.