The body language of an active listener

  • 1 Leaning forward in chair

    When a person becomes very interested in a conversation, they might lean forward in their chair. Note that the absence of this sign doesn't indicate lack of interest in the conversation.

  • 2 Sitting on the edge of the chair

    Another body language sign that signifies interest in a conversation is sitting on the edge of the chair. Sitting on the edge of the chair is similar to leaning forward. 

  • 3 Tilting the head

    One of the strong signs of active listening in body language is tilting the head to one of the sides while listening. When a person becomes receptive, they usually tilt their heads to one side. See also body language signs of confidence.

  • 4 Resting chin on the palm

    If the person tilts their head and rests their chin on their palm, they are probably actively listening. Resting the chin on the palm is not a strong sign on its own, but if it's accompanied by a tilted head then it's a sign of active listening.

  • 5 Proper eye-contact

    If a person is actively listening then they will maintain proper eye contact. The person would maintain eye-contact 70-90% of the time and their eyes won't focus on other objects for long. See also the body language of anxiety.

  • 6 Not playing with objects

    When a person actively listens, they won't feel like playing with objects on their desk or in their pockets. Playing with such objects might indicate boredom.

  • 7 No interruptions

    When a person actively listens to someone, they are very less likely to interrupt with questions. The person can still ask questions but the timing will be more accurate because the person will want to listen to the speaker before talking.

  • 8 Less body movements

    If a person is actively listening then their body movements will become less. Fidgeting and moving very often are signs that the person is distracted.

  • 9 Taking notes

    If the person is taking notes then this probably means that they are highly interested in the conversation. Not all people take notes, but the ones who do are usually listening very well.

  • 10 No tapping with hands or legs

    When a person is not actively listening, they might keep tapping with their hands or legs. This gesture could have many meanings including boredom or not being able to focus well on what's being said. See body language of the back.

  • 11 Nodding (sometimes)

    Nodding is a tricky sign. In some cases, it can indicate that the person is actively listening, while in other cases, it might mean that the person is trying to seem like an active listener.

  • 12 Mirroring

    In some cases, the person who is actively listening might mirror the speaker. This sign, however, is not a must and a person can still be actively listening without mirroring the speaker.