Republished with permission from the Whitman College Peer Listener Handbook Note: The handbook is an excellent resource, especially when listening in person, however it does not perfectly mesh with LiveWire's "Peer Answers" philosophy.
It is important to listen intently, because it shows your peer that you are interested in what they have to say. It is our hope that it will encourage your peer to open up more. It will lead to a more comfortable, trusting setting for both of you.
Eye contact and other empathetic facial expressions.
'Uh huh' and other verbal encouragers.
Comfortable and attentive body posture, without invading their space.
Appearing relaxed ... even if you are not.
WHAT TO AVOID
Changing the subject when your peer is not ready to move on.
Staring intensely at your peer.
Paraphrasing is the key to everything. By paraphrasing you use your own words to repeat what your peer said. This often allows your peer to consider a slightly different perspective. Be tentative. This allows for your peer to correct you if you are misunderstanding what they are saying.