How to Become an Effective Listener

Listening makes our loved ones feel worthy, appreciated, interesting, and respected. Ordinary conversations emerge on a deeper level, as do our relationships. When we listen, we foster the skill in others by acting as a model for positive and effective communication.

Pay attention. This means looking directly at the speaker, concentrating and devoting all of your attention, refusing to let your mind wander. To aid understanding, watch for body language cues. Don’t get distracted and resist the temptation to interrupt or argue.

Create a conductive physical and mental space. Ignore all distractions. Give full attention. Switch off your mobile. It may be easiest to arrange to talk somewhere that distractions will not arise. Quiet your mind and open yourself to whatever the speaker might have to say.

Use your senses to listen: Nonverbal behavior has been known to constitute approximately 60-70% of all talk.  To show that you are actively listening, make your body face the other person and, if you are sitting down, you may want to lean forward a little. Maintain eye contact without staring, and relax your hand in such a way that you appear welcoming and not bored.  Nod your head to show agreement or understanding, and make sounds such as “hmmm’ or say “I’m with you.” to show interest.

Improving your conversational listening skills is a matter of implementing several basic but important tips.

  • Maintain eye contact
  • Limit your talking
  • Focus on the people
  • Ask questions
  • Manage your emotions
  • Listen with your eyes and ears
  • Listen for ideas and opportunities
  • Remain open to the conversation
  • Remove all distractions

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