The Art of Active Listening

Arnold Zegarelli is Director of Education at Izzazu Salon Spa and Serrata in Pittsburgh where he’s been dispensing sound advice to help hairdressers become more successful for years. 

Listening effectively is a skill that can be taken to an art form when it is done sincerely.

Focus on the Speaker Maintain good eye contact with an appropriate expression—interest, empathy, enthusiasm—on your face.


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Lean In When you lean slightly toward the speaker, it displays sincerity and interest.

Nod Your Head Accordingly The speaker will be watching your body language for feedback. When you nod your head, it shows that you are listening and not just hearing.

Make Occasional Comments  Words like “really” or “go on” or “that’s interesting” or “I’m following you” encourage the speaker to continue speaking. By sincerely listening, you may learn something that will help you become a better conversationalist. 

Paraphrase Occasionally repeat to the person in your own words what you just heard them say. For example, if they say, “I just want a trim,” you might respond, “What I’m hearing you say is that you don’t want much cut off, is that right?” When you paraphrase, you are reinforcing the speaker’s meaning by clarifying it.

Listen to What They Mean, Not Just What They Say Listening actively for pauses and the emphasis they place on different words or phrases is challenging, but it is also fascinating because you are in control of your thoughts and the situation just by uttering and listening.

Pause Before You Speak This one really takes practice and discipline because you will be dying to speak and give your feedback, but I encourage you to wait a few seconds before you start to make
sure they are really ready to quit talking. You will be surprised how many times you would have stepped on their lines if you started talking too soon.