Active listening is a skill anyone can learn. Just like other skills you've acquired, it takes practice. Here are six skills needed to perfect active listening:

Paying Attention
Pay attention to your body language as well as your frame of mind. Be focused on the moment, and operate from a place of respect as the listener.

Withholding Judgment
Be open to new ideas, new perspectives, and new possibilities when practicing active listening. 

Reflecting
When listening, paraphrase key points to indicate that you and your counterpart are on the same page.

Clarifying
Ask questions to clarify any doubt or confusion about what the speaker has said.

Summarizing
Restate key themes of the conversation to solidify your grasp of the other person's point of view. 

Sharing
Once you have a clearer understanding of the other person's perspective, and they are through speaking, you can begin to introduce your ideas, feelings, and suggestions. You might talk about a similar experience you had or share an idea that was triggered by a comment made previously in the conversation.

The best listeners have mastered all six of these valuable skills!