Active Listening to Influence Conversations. By Judy Chicangana

Who would have said that good communication starts with good listening! When I hear about communication and how important it is in business, our personal lives and our professional development, I always take stock on how I speak or how my manners and body language are interpreted by others. I evaluate how I transmit information, forgetting that communication is about listening too. But listening? Why listening?.

Well, it is simple, we need to figure out what the other person wants, and then, we need to adapt our message to influence the conversation. Imagine that you are on a date and you really want to create a good impression, you have rehearsed and memorised every word, and everything goes according to plan. So, you get a second date, and the same story repeats every time. After a few years with this boyfriend, you realised that he is not what you want. To give the impression you wanted, you were concerned about talking, but you didn’t take the time to listen and evaluate the other person’s character or goals. Just imagine all that time that you could have saved yourself if only you had listened more and spoken less!.  According to professor Paul Willax: “nothing has ever been learned by talking”.

But listening is not an easy process, Comer (1999) describes it as a multidimensional process with 3 consecutive stages:

  1. Sensing: it means, receiving verbal and non-verbal messages. Non-verbal messages such as body language, facial expressions, proxemics. This stage involves sensing the information that is not said.
  2. Processing: in this stage, the message is transformed, organised, interpreted, understood and evaluated. 
    • To understand the message means to recognise the emotions, thoughts and feelings behind the words and to comprehend its implications. 
    • To evaluate the message, we need to ask ourselves: is this information appropriate?.
  3. Responding: we select the information to be sent back to the interlocutor.

According to Comer, this multidimensional process is what many people call “Active Listening”. It should be combined with empathy to reach successful communication increasing our possibilities to influence conversations. Empathy is defined by Corner as the ability to discern another person’s thoughts and feelings with some degree of accuracy.


  • Comer, L. Drollinger, T. (1999) Active Empathetic Listening and Selling Success: A Conceptual Framework. Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management. Vol. 19 Issue 1, 15-29.
  • Mind Tools (e.d.) (n.d.) Active Listening. Available from:[Accessed 4th June 2019]
  • Willax, P. (2007) To communicate better, improve your listening skills. New Hampshire Business Review. 23. 

5 thoughts on “Active Listening to Influence Conversations. By Judy Chicangana

  1. This is a great visual tool for helping people understand what active listenting is. It’s a term thta we hear about a lot but not many people can do it skillfully. It’s essential for conflict resolution!

    Liked by 1 person

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