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Active Listening

Advising should go beyond simply giving information or signing a form.

One of the most important skills you can have is active listening. Your ability to listen actively, and thoughtfully, can have a profound effect on how your advisees experience their first-year at MIT. 

Here are some principles to keep in mind when having conversations with your advisees:

  • Allow students to tell their story without interrupting.
  • Keep similar feelings or problems from your own experience to a minimum. 
  • Observe the emotion, voice intonation, and body language behind words.
  • Establish consistent eye contact and use affirmative head nods. 
  • Check for understanding by paraphrasing what is said.  
  • Ask open-ended questions to open dialogue, rather than asking “yes” or “no” questions.
  • Keep notes from your conversation so that you can you recall and follow up on specifics.