Put active listening together with empathy to improve your relationships ..
To become an effective communicator, you need to learn to listen just as much as you need to learn to speak. Unfortunately, most people focus more on the speaking than they do on the listening. Whether in a one-on-one conversation or a group meeting or classroom, focusing on what others are saying allows you to present yourself more effectively. When you listen correctly, you also learn more.
Being an actively empathic listener means, then, that you not only make sure you're actively paying attention but that you let the speaker you know you are. You ask questions when you're not clear on what the other person is communicating, you try to infer what the person is feeling, and you let the person know that you remember what he or she actually said.
by Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D.
Via Edwin Rutsch, David Hain, John Michel