To show that you are actively listening to somebody who is talking, it is important to show that you are actually listening and not daydreaming. The idea of active listening is to encourage the other person to speak in a way that doesn’t give away your own thoughts on a subject.
Sometimes, we do this to show a polite interest, even though we might not be interested. Other times, we are genuinely interested in what the speaker has to say.
Whatever the situation, there are some good phrases you can use in a conversation in order to keep the conversation moving and to show interest. People love to talk, and if you show them you are listening they will love your company and feel that you are interesting and great to talk to, even though all you have done is to enable them to talk.
We are all drawn to people who make us feel special, so to have successful conversations, you do need to show that you are actively listening and interested in what they have to say.
One great word is “Really.” Really? Really! You can use this simple word to express surprise, interest, sadness and even disbelief but the best thing about it is that it is totally ambiguous. It will encourage the speaker to continue.
Other phrases, such as “you don’t say,” “that’s interesting,” or “that’s neat” might not seem very important, but it does show that you are paying attention. And if you combine these words with eye contact and positive body language, it tells the speaker that you are listening. In truth, the words that you use are not really important. Language changes all the time, and phrases that can do this, can come in and out of fashion.
The important thing is to show engagement with the speaker and signal that you are listening and interested in what they have to say. Using the “right“ words won’t make you look sincere. If somebody is telling you something sad or tragic for example and you miss it, just making one of these non-committal encouraging phases such as “oh really“ or “you don’t say” is just plain wrong.
The simple truth is that we are all guilty of inattention in a conversation sometimes. Sometimes we do fake interest out of the sake of politeness, and there is no magic formula or phrases that can make anyone seem engaged and interested. The best way to show sincerity and interest is to actively engage and listen to the person speaking and occasionally ask a simple question about what they are saying. So try not to fake it till you make it! Instead, be sincere.