How to Be a Good Listener? Here are 8 Tips

Whatever your career path or professional field, learning how to improve your listening skills can help you excel in your industry. From communicating with business partners to understanding market trends, the skills of being a good listener can give you a competitive edge.

The ability to understand other people’s needs and requests can be easier when you practice active listening. In this article, we cover tips for being a better listener at work.

Table Of Contents

1 What Makes Someone a Good Listener?
2 How to Be a Good Listener?
2.1 1. Give your full attention
2.2 2. Eliminate distractions
2.3 3. Resist the temptation to interrupt
2.4 4. Build strong relationships
2.5 5. Ask for more details
2.6 6. Paraphrase what you heard
2.7 7. Record any nonverbal cues
2.8 8. Offer feedback when necessary

What Makes a Good Listener?

A good listener does more than just hear conversations. The most skilled listeners offer their undivided attention, carefully process what they hear and respond with empathy.

They also tend to be open-minded when listening. As you develop your listening skills, you will find that you can participate more fully in conversations and offer more effective feedback.

How to Be a Good Listener?

Follow these tips to develop better listening skills:

1. Give your full attention

The first step to better listening is to give it your full attention. You should use positive body language to show your willingness to have a conversation.

Position yourself so that you are facing the other person directly, and feel comfortable so you can concentrate on the conversation.

Make eye contact when you first start talking to someone and continue to connect visually throughout the conversation. You don’t need to maintain uninterrupted eye contact, but you should see the speaker often. Maintaining regular eye contact helps you focus on the speaker and his words.

2. Eliminate distractions

If possible, remove all distractions from the area. If you are at your desk, save the document and close the notebook. Dim the screen on your computer or laptop to prevent yourself from staring at the screen or being distracted by incoming emails. Turn the sound down so you don’t hear the warning during a conversation.

Cell phones can be one of the biggest causes of distractions. To ensure you can maintain full focus, keep your phone in silent mode and place it in an area that you cannot see or reach easily.

If you’re attending a scheduled meeting, make sure you find a quiet room or space. Close doors to limit external noise and interference. Try to make the area as comfortable as possible to allow focused listening.

3. Resist the temptation to interrupt

When you are listening, one of the most effective things you can do is to let the other person speak without interruption. If you’re worried about not being able to provide input or respond to questions, remember that you should have plenty of opportunities to talk later.

If you can’t hear the person you’re talking to clearly, ask the other person to speak louder or position yourself closer. If external noise is preventing you from listening, try muting any environmental sounds so you don’t have to ask someone else to repeat a statement.

Remember that a moment of silence can give both of you a chance to reflect on what you’ve discussed before continuing the conversation.

4. Build strong relationships

To encourage your conversation partner to share as much as possible, make the other person as comfortable as possible. In addition to eliminating distractions and focusing your attention on the other person, try subtly imitating your conversation partner’s movements.

Adopt the same posture and use comparable body language as you listen. Reflect on their facial expressions to show that you understand what they are saying.

Instead of making your gestures and body language too similar to the person you’re talking to, make sure it reflects the other person’s mood.

You’ll build rapport with your conversation partner and build trust, both of which are essential to being a good listener. You’ll also respond with empathy, which can open lines of communication and help conversations flow more naturally.

5. Ask for more details

Working on your listening skills doesn’t mean you have to stay still throughout a conversation. On the other hand, asking good questions can be an effective way to encourage your conversation partner to share more, giving you additional opportunities to listen.

Wait for the speaker to end their part of the conversation naturally. When it’s your turn to speak, focus on the question rather than the solution. Ask your conversation partner for more details, especially if you don’t understand the implications of a situation.

Invite your conversation partner to share how the results made them feel rather than assuming their reaction. Remember that curiosity can help you gather more information so you can provide better feedback later.

6. Paraphrase what you heard

Being able to remember what the other person said at the start of a conversation and having the capacity to follow the flow of the conversation through the entire discussion are essential to being a good listener. As you listen, make it a point to paraphrase everything you hear.

You can paraphrase the conversation internally to help you process what you hear and enter it into your memory. If you are a visual learner, try to imagine the situation your conversation partner describes to help you understand and remember it.

After you have listened carefully to your conversation partner and asked clarifying questions, use your next speaking opportunity to paraphrase what the other person said.

Try using language such as, “It looks like you’re saying it,” to give your conversation partner a chance to clarify anything you may have misunderstood.

Repeating what you hear helps you avoid assuming what the other person is saying or thinking while offering your conversation partner an opportunity to reflect on the discussion.

7. Take note of any nonverbal cues

The more you listen, the more you will realize that nonverbal communication is just as effective as anything you can say or hear. That’s why you should pay attention to the other person’s nonverbal cues during conversation.

Pay attention to what other people say when their facial expressions change. Identify the body language of the other person, especially if it changes.

When it’s your turn to speak, mention the other person’s nonverbal cues. Instead of assuming that you understand what the sign means, try using language such as, “You seem happy” to give your conversation partner a chance to clarify.

8. Offer feedback when necessary

Conversations shouldn’t be one-way interactions, even when you’re focused on listening. Once the other person has had plenty of opportunities to talk and you’ve clarified any points of confusion, offer feedback as appropriate.

Try using language like, “I can understand why you’re excited,” or “Your situation sounds very challenging.” There are cases where you may just need to offer a simple statement to satisfy the speaker.

If your conversation partner has made it clear that they want your insight or help with a solution, offer more in-depth feedback.

Explain how you navigated a similar situation or how you would proceed with the information you just gathered. Make sure you provide situation-appropriate information to show that you listen to their challenges and understand their requests.

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