- Next trainer development cohort 10th - 14th June 2024

Active listening – the digital version

28th November, 2022

Active listening – the digital version

A close friend of mine, Theo*, confessed recently he always worked with three screens:


‘One for the Teams call, one for the document we’re discussing, and one for a sneaky email multi-task.’


Do you do this too, you cheeky so-and-so?


Look – I get it.  It’s so tempting to try and do a few things at once.  To try to save time.  To do things faster.  


But let’s face it, your audience always knows when they’re not getting your full attention.


The ‘shifty eye wander’ is a dead giveaway. ?


And it can make people feel undervalued and disrespected.


Now, you’ve probably heard of the term ‘active listening’, where you pay full attention to someone in a conversation.  Your aim is to try to understand the full meaning of what they’re saying (and, more importantly, not saying).


But how do you do this in a digital conversation?


How do you show someone you’re fully engaged when you’re just a tiny box on screen or one of a gazillion messages in their inbox?


It’s not easy, for sure.


So I love this advice from author Erica Dhawan in her book ‘Digital Body Language – How to build trust and connection no matter the distance’.  She suggests we ‘value people visibly’ with the following techniques:


  • Prioritise quick response times, even if with a holding message
  • Answer all the questions and comments in the message, not just one or two
  • Set up face-to-face meetings for stickier issues
  • Use verbal cues, such as ‘Go ahead’ or ‘I’m listening’ to encourage others to share their thoughts during video calls
  • Ask clarifying questions to show you’re properly listening


What do think of this list? What you to do make people feel heard and valued remotely?  And how do you stop your eyes from wandering?

University of Cambridge


- Next trainer development cohort 10th - 14th June 2024

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