Active Listening

10 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2008 Last revised: 10 Nov 2021

See all articles by James G. Clawson

James G. Clawson

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

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This note describes reflective, or active, listening. A list of types of responses, from directive to nondirective, is given in an exhibit. The note itself summarizes major principles of reflective listening and how they can be applied. It may be used as a summary of, or introduction to, the topic.



Rev. Mar. 28, 2018

Active Listening

I think real listening is something you do with your whole self. You have to hear what people are really saying beneath all the words. You have to pick up the messages that have a certain urgency and then respond to these nuances with further questions. Over the years, I've learned that the really attentive listening requires conversational responsiveness. You have to try to listen in such a way that you can respond with your own ideas and feelings and aspirations—so that you show the speaker that you've truly been paying attention. I'm talking about a strong human connection here: How do we understand one another? How do we give ourselves to someone else, and possibly even become one?

—Robert Coles


. . .

Keywords: communication process, communication, human resources, management, superior/subordinate relationships, listening

Suggested Citation

Clawson, James G., Active Listening. Darden Case No. UVA-OB-0341, Available at SSRN: or

James G. Clawson (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States


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